The metrical-projection fallacy (2)

Per the metrical-projection fallacy, the various problems of consciousness are not about consciousness as such, but about positing any divisions in the logical genus created by the operational definitions that science trades in. Science is a collective agreements to view diverse phenomena in a logical genus where their differences drop away, since this allows them to be identical with their measure and so to be placed on graphs or to admit of algebraic relationships. Sometimes our awareness that differences are real makes this agreement seem too demanding but it has always ended up being made. Motion has been unified to rest, agents to instruments, life to the non-living, etc.* Consciousness is just the latest field where we are protesting that something constitutes a specific difference from some larger genus, but if it goes the way the others have gone, in fifty years no one will even remember the controversy or bother to give the fig-leaf explanations of it being emergent or reductive. No one will remember that there is a difference to explain. Did anyone notice in tenth-grade biology that life was explained entirely in terms of non-living processes? No. There was nothing to explain since nothing was noticed.

Science is not an objective account opposed to a subjective account, or the grand culmination of human rationality, or a story of how things are and not why they are, or a factual account opposed to culture, values, religion, mathematics, logic, etc. It is the logos of things taken operationally and therefore in a logically abstracted genus where object and measure are identical. This creates a dialectical platform in which all discourses are unified and so can cross-fertilize and mutually enlighten, and which also sees its objects as inert before the initiation of an in-principle controllable stimulus and so as potential instruments for human agency. All this would be fine if we took it for what it was and accepted that the specific differences of things had to be understood in a different way, but instead we set up schemes of dualism, emergence, illusions of difference, and reductionism in order to account for how there can be any difference between a genus and its species, before forgetting the whole enterprise and carrying on as if it never happened.

*The attempt to unify consciousness to the non-conscious is arguably not even the most radical attempt to do away with a specific difference. Newton’s invoking of “mathematical principles” of nature unifies logic and reality, and so unifies real being and being dependent on the mind. Once one has done this, unifying consciousness to the non-conscious is small potatoes.

As Dekoninck pointed out over his whole career, this unification is very old. It’s what Aristotle called dialectic, and one of his longest books was dedicated to giving a theory of it.



  1. Johan Swart said,

    March 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Interesting way to put it. I was able to follow you all the way, except for this last bit, why would you say Newton was unifying logic with reality or real being with being dependent on mind? (I trust as a Thomist, you subscribe to Aristotelian realism with regards to mathematics?)

  2. March 11, 2017 at 11:41 am

    […] Let us go back to the oak tree for a moment. The zombie oak would be one that is not truly living, but its activities, apparently full of life, are actually lifeless. In order to avoid this possibility, and out of a zeal for form which is not according to knowledge, some assert that the activities of an oak cannot be understood in terms of the activities of the parts. There is a hint of this, perhaps, in this remark by James Chastek: […]

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