Amerika

On Nominalism — Or, As I Call It, Individualism

Malcolm Pollack acts like a magnet, moving through sand and attracting bits of shiny metal. His most recent post concerns Richard M. Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences, a statement of transcendental realism if there ever was one.

Mr Weaver traces the cracking open of the abyss all the way back to William of Ockham and the birth of nominalism — the idea that there is nothing more to the things in this world than the things themselves. In this, Weaver argues, our culture began a move from the transcendent to the particular; from the purpose of labor to the fruits of labor; from the eternal to the merely present; from a lofty hierarchy of order, with its apex in Heaven, to undifferentiated rubble on a darkling plain.

The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses.

…The most portentous general event of our time is the steady obliteration of those distinctions which create society.

… The very possibility that there may exist timeless truths is a reproach to the life of laxness and indifference which modern egotism encourages.

The world of the sense is the opposite of the world of the intellect, but the world of the senses does not challenge us. The intellect knows that it can be wrong, and therefore, it seeks to avoid challenging questions. Material facts and sensations are not challenging if one interprets them as reasons in themselves, and not evidence of an underlying pattern that is the actuality of reality. For this reason, nominalism is the pre-emptive defensive act of the individualistic ego against the risk of being wrong present in the intellect processing a world where effect does not resemble its cause. Interesting stuff.

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