enlightened common sense

reading for m of care – nov 8 – on roy bhaskar.. critical realism et al

enlightened common sense:

m of care – nov 8 – part 1

m of care – dec 8 – part 2

m of care – jan 12 – part 3

m of care – feb 8 (2) – part 4

(2016) by roy – enlightened common sense – the philosophy of critical realism – via 244 page pdf [https://museum.care/events/roy-bhaskar-s-enlightened-common-sense-and-from-science-to-emancipation-reading-group-part-1/]



“Roy Bhaskar’s too brief life was a gift to humanity. His life’s work gave us a solid
ontological grounding for all those intuitions that most of us feel we should be able
to justify, but are constantly being told by the reigning intellectual authorities we
can’t: that the world, and other people, are real, that freedom is inherent in the
nature of the cosmos, that genuine human flourishing can never be at the expense
of others. Bhaskar lived to provide the intellectual heavy artillery for simple common decency and good sense. Much of his work was written in exceedingly difficult language. This book, however, makes it accessible to those who have the most
to gain from it: anyone trying to make the world a better place.”
David Graeber, anthropologist; sometime revolutionary;
Professor at London School of Economics, UK


preface -by mervyn hartwig

Bhaskar will long be remembered I think for three great achievements, all of which are evident in this book. First, his work arguably provides the most adequate solution yet arrived at to the nexus of problems that constitute post-Kantian
philosophy. This is the working hypothesis of a brilliant young American philosopher now domiciled in the UK, Dustin McWherter. If borne out it will rank Bhaskar above the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida. Second, it articulates
a powerful metatheory for orienting or underlabouring for emancipatory science, that is, science capable of making discoveries that can assist in promoting human emancipation. Finally, it develops the most thoroughgoing and devastating metacritique ever penned of capitalist modernity and its intellectual underpinnings (and indeed of master–slave-type social forms in all their guises) and offers a metatheoretical roadmap out of it to a global eudaimonian constellation of societies in which the free flourishing of each human being is a condition of the free flourishing of all. The overall message of Bhaskar’s work, as of this book, is that people can rationally change the world decisively for the better..t


Of course, emancipatory philosophy and science, while indispensable for making a transition to eudaimonia, are not the only, or even the main thing. If we are ever to get much further with that project, philosophical and scientific work will need to be articulated creatively with proliferating social and political movements, as this book emphasises. Our greatest resource for building the good society is people everywhere and their inexhaustible capacities for freedom and creativity, love and hope – for hearing and living by ‘the voice of truth and humanity’,.. t as Goethe understood so profoundly.

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening if we want eudaimonia\tive surplus


1 – on the presuppositions and origins of the philosophy of critical realism


Critical realism aspires to clear the ground a little, removing, in the first place, the philosophical rubbish that lies in the way of scientific knowledge, especially but not only in the domain of the social sciences; and in this way to underlabour for science and (partly in virtue of this, it argues) more generally for practices oriented to human well-being and flourishing..t These philosophies have been inherited largely unthinkingly from the past. At one time they may have played a progressive role, but they have long since ceased to do so. Indeed, we can say with Albert Einstein that ‘the world we have created today as a result of our thinking thus far has problems which cannot be solved by thinking the way we thought when we created them’..t

rubbish ie: all data to date is like data from whales in sea world.. we have no idea what legit free people are like

taleb center of problem law

need to org around legit needs

It is, as we shall see, in such ‘hypostasis’, detotalisation or disconnect that the seeds of academic unseriousness very often lie. What critical realism would like to do, then, is produce a serious philosophy that we can act on, and one moreover that is relevant to the pressing challenges we face and that ideally at least can illuminate a way forward (telling us something new)..t

chomsky serious things law.. (from bhaskar – if you say it .. can’t not do it.. et al)


For critical realism, philosophy does not speak about a world apart from the world of science and everyday life. There is not a separate world for philosophy and another world for everything else: there is only one world

revolution of everyday life ness.. thurman interconnectedness law ness

a form of argument initiated by Immanuel Kant: transcendental argument. A transcendental argument asks what must be the case for some feature of our experience to be possible, or more generally what must the world be like for some social practice (*as conceptualised in our experience) to be possible. As such it is clearly a species of a genus that plays a large part in science, which I call retroductive argument. A retroductive argument asks what would, if it were real, bring about, produce, cause or explain a phenomenon; and retroduction is the imaginative activity in science by which the scientist thinks up causes or, as we shall say, generative mechanisms which, if they were real, would explain the phenomenon in question.

better focus/question.. what must be case/conditions for 8bn people to be legit free – again.. because *all data/conceptualizations/experiences to date are nonlegit.. like from whales in sea world

our findings:

1\ undisturbed ecosystem (common\ing) can happen

2\ if we create a way to ground the chaos of 8b legit free people


Pre-existing philosophy has seriously misdescribed the presuppositions of most of our everyday and scientific practices. So it involves theory/practice disjuncture or incoherence and performative contradiction, characteristically constituting what
I call a TINA compromise formation, in which basically a truth in practice is combined or held in tension with a falsity in theory. (TINA stands for ‘there is no alternative’; see further Chapter 6.4.)
The aim of critical realist philosophy can now be clarified. When a practice is more or less adequate, as we can perhaps grant it is most of the time in the natural sciences, but nevertheless theory (that is, understanding of its presuppositions or, we could also say, metatheory) falls woefully short, the aim is to provide a better or more adequate account or theory of the practice.

again.. better/deeper (and now we have the means for).. providing a better more adequate account for a legit other way for 8bn people to live.. (and to leap to) for (blank)’s sake

Hermes is the Greek name for an ancient Egyptian sage who argued that we should accept nothing on authority, but *test every proposition for ourselves in our everyday practices. This is very much in keeping with the radical spirit of critical realism.
I would enjoin the reader, as we go along in this book, to refer constantly to their experience (whether lay or research), to attempt to apply to it the arguments, theories and concepts put forward, and to see whether they cohere or fit with it. For since there is only one world, albeit there are very variant descriptions of it, the theories and principles of critical realist philosophy should also apply to our everyday lives. If they do not, then something is seriously wrong. **This means that our theories and explanations should be tested in everyday life as well as in specialist research contexts.

*today we have means to avoid that energy suck/distraction/cancer.. to quit living as a responder.. and start living as if already free ness (caveat – has to be all of us or the dance won’t dance).. ie: humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity  .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

**if we want to be legit serious.. need to get out of sea world first (let’s do this first ness).. otherwise spinning our wheels in whalespeak.. aka: same song ness

*Since the time of Socrates philosophers have rightly deplored the ‘unexamined life’; but, for the examination to be worthy of the name, another life and another world must be possible, which presupposes that change must be possible, and that possibility must be real. .tThis is the position I call dispositional realism, namely that possibilities, as well as the actualities that are instances of them, must be real. **But it also presupposes that agency is real, and that I can transform it, that is, that a transformed transformative praxis is possible and that reflection (including philosophical critique) can play a part in ushering in a better life and a better world.

*roy another world law et al.. graeber make it diff law et al

ie: a nother way

**catch here.. yes.. individuals can and have to change it.. but.. (i’m never just me ness.. and beyond the monastic self ness.. and none of us are free ness.. as if already free ness.. et al).. it has to be everyone in sync.. or the dance won’t dance.. legit change won’t happen


The question I asked was what must the world be like for experimentation to be possible; and my analysis showed that it must be independently real, structured and differentiated..t So I had provided at once an argument for ontology and an argument for a new (non-Humean) ontology (study of being).

need 1st/most: means to undo our hierarchical listening (as detox) so we can org around legit needs

mutual compatibility and entailment of ontological realism , epistemological relativism and judgemental rationalism , which I call the holy trinity11 of critical realism


Science then proceeds to describe this newly identified level of reality and a further round of discovery and development follows.
On this new view of science, it is a dynamic social activity continually opening up deeper and more recondite levels of reality to the curious investigator; while on the new ontology stratification emerges as a key property

we need to let go of id-ing and describing ness.. or we’re not really opening up anything deeper.. and so.. we’ll never see reality.. we’ll just keep seeing/perpetuating sea world.. myth of tragedy and lord ness et al.. oi

naming the colour ness perpetuating same song ness


There must always be an independent analysis of the new domain before the possibility of any transapplication can be considered.

again.. no new/diff domain if tans-ing.. if apply-ing.. we need to try something legit diff.. and let go of having to know/describe/analyze.. et al


If ontology is the initiating big idea of critical realism, the subsequent development of critical realism is most perspicaciously presented as founded on successive further deepenings of ontology, around each wave of which we can organise characteristic categorial/conceptual, epistemological, ethical and methodological tropes.

oi.. let go

36 (17)

ch 5 then continues by considering in greater depth the phenomenon of language.. This chapter then explores the nature of language as an essential condition of social life, as both causally conditioned and causally efficacious, and as a diagnostic
clue to extra-linguistic features of social reality, such as power relations and the distribution of resources, all of which furnish a basis for critical discourse analysis as an indispensable tool of social scientific analysis.
Critical discourse analysis is related to the practice of explanatory critique, and two examples of evaluatively significant explanatory critique are discussed in some detail.

rather.. language as control/enclosure.. literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things


Following the analyses in Chapters 6and 7 we can further develop the dialectic of freedom and solidarity to sketch some contours of the good society characterised by an orientation to universal flourishing in four-planar social being. The chapter goes on to consider what needs to be done to move towards universal flourishing in the context of the present multiple global crises (ecological, economic and moral) or crisis system , raising concerns about capability and legitimacy alike.

won’t get to universal flourishing if concerned with capability and legitimacy.. (hope i’m misunderstanding)

This leads into a recapitulation of the dialectic of desire to freedom, which is the ethical high point of dialectical critical realism, and its radicalisation in the philosophy of metaReality in the idea of the eudaimonistic society as dependent upon and oriented towards the project of universal flourishing and self-realisation .

imagine if we just focused on listening to the itch-in-8b-souls.. first thing.. everyday.. and used that data to augment our interconnectedness.. we might just get to a more antifragile, healthy, thriving world.. the ecosystem we keep longing for..

what the world needs most is the energy of 8b alive people

After rebutting some common misconceptions about critical realism, the book then turns critically and self-reflexively to the respects in which critical realism remains weak and considers the ways in which it needs to develop today to underlabour for the challenges humanity and its sciences face.

rather.. needs to let go


2 – transcendental realism and the philosophy of science