One interesting and important finding that I derived from my categorical research is that we need to differentiate not just people but their mental structures from their own categorical specifications of these structures. The Diagram shows that there are a priori structures into which we are all born, and yet you can see that each individual within these structures is unique and differentiated from others. This comes from the fact that each individual creates their own categories (ideas) that they develop on their own and due to influences or inspirations from others. However, we need to notice that these internal distinctions of categories are not, in fact, categorical and therefore not a priori as Kant argued. I am writing this in order to show that the distinction of structure versus category (a form of content) is more important because it is a priori in regard to distinctions of categories within each individual’s philosophical worldview.
The question of consciousness
I think we need to start with consciousness. If consciousness is the structure that allows specifications of categories then we need to know whether consciousness itself could be considered a category and thus the first question should be whether categories can structure other categories. But in order to relate this study to philosophy, we may find this definition and analogy helpful: philosophy studies ideas, but metaphilosophy studies minds that study ideas.
So the conflict is between minds as ideas (categories) and ideas (categories). It seems like categories, if we allow a categorical structure given a priori to consciousness, exist on two levels, one of which is meta- and hence structures the lower level. But the question then is whether (meta)categories can structure other categories.
Based on the metaphilosophical research of the Diagram, I must understand consciousness not as an a priori category but as an a priori metacategory. This distinction may work, if we borrow the term ‘metacategory,’ which is only used in math, and apply it in philosophy.
Kant’s a priori categories
If we now look at Kant’s a priori and differentiate categories as content from reason as structure, we may think that there is content in the structure, but not in terms of phenomena, which cannot be a priori according to Kant, but content can also be of or belonging to the structure itself as the specifications of the structure, i.e., the categories for which, as we read in the foreword to Critique of Practical Reason, Kant very carefully selected the terms. Kantian categories are exactly that kind of content, which means that Kant argues for two kinds of a priori: a priori structure (reason) and a priori elements of structure, or content (categories).
My argument against Kant is that elements of structure cannot be specified a priori because any act of specification would itself have to precede the results of it. In order for Kant to specify the elements he had to have a lot of experience (physical as well as mental, abstracting from the physical) before he ‘discovered’ these elements. However, one cannot discover something by specifying it, unless one is doing math, which itself, as a whole, is an invention, but that is a topic that reaches beyond the merits of Kant’s synthetic vs. analytic distinctions.
Kant had four basic categories differentiating into twelve transcendental groups of categories:
- Inherence and Subsistence,
- Causality and Dependence,
These were based on judgmental differentiations of the basic four categories, into which I won’t go further. Kant never called these basic categories anything besides ‘categories.’ But if Kantian problematic reaches beyond Kant in terms of his synthetic vs. analytic conflict, so then we need a new kind of category to not only transcend the conflicts first developed by Kant but also set Kant in context with other philosophies.
Metacategories: the foundation
If we assume, following the definition of philosophy given in the first section, that philosophy is a metacategory, which subsumes ideas as categories, then metaphilosophy is a study of metacategories. That could be compared to our philosophy being the lens of our consciousness, from which we cannot escape. But it seems here that I equate philosophy with consciousness as a metacategorical lens, while metacategory itself seems to be a lens.
What I mean is that every time you organize or conceive of other categories, it is your own metacategory, your idiosyncratic way of philosophizing, so a ‘lens’ metaphor is merely descriptively applied to consciousness as a metacategory. But if consciousness (through the lens metaphor) is also our individual philosophy, then there may be no confusing equivocation. (The lens metaphor is borrowed from Kenneth Burke’s rhetoric.)
I don’t think a person can talk about his/her consciousness without being philosophical about it in the first place, and we’ve already seen evidence of the kind of conflict of personal philosophies. So if we can understand our consciousness while living alone on an island, that means that our philosophy was a priori and it was a metacategory. It’s interesting to note that metacategory must precede categories also because there are non-philosophers who follow philosophical traditions without realizing their specific categories of thought. This also means that metaphilosophy doesn’t only need to study minds that study ideas but it can simply study minds, becoming an alternative to psychology.
Based on formalizations of my philosophy, I derive the following 8 metacategories, divided by what they structure:
- The Model’s metametaphysical categories:
- The Model’s metaepistemological categories:
- The Diagram’s metaphilosophical categories:
The 8 metacategories apply to all consciousness, but specific consciousness must specify simple categories (such as a materialist who reduces, idealist who idealizes, and integrator who integrates), thus exiting the ‘realm’ of meta-. These metacategories thus structure all consciousness, since we cannot correctly evaluate consciousness without them. In contrast to Kantian a priori categories, these metacategories can be found in all philosophers and philosophy in general.
[From now on I shall stop writing and updating this blog and will concentrate on converting it into a book.]