Categorial frameworks: some preliminary thoughts

I’ve been currently trying to tackle Korner’s Categorial Frameworks for some time now. I don’t have anything but rough thoughts on the issue but there are interesting points to be made, especially in relation to Kant, and some issues that I am not clear about.

1. Applies to what?

The question that most philosopher’s might ask would be something like ‘what is the remit of the category thesis’? or ‘what area is it relevant to’? The answer of this I am not sure. Kant’s metaphysic of science employs a taxonomy of a Linnaean scheme and applies most clearly to scientific classifications and entities; the claim that this taxonomy applies to metaphysics in any bigger way is perhaps going beyond the original text.

The categorial scheme tries to, according to Korner, show how our convictions about what there is in the world relate intimately to metaphysical convictions. Korner’s initial discussion of the subject matter of how our classificatory system may take place sometimes looks like it would fit in a discussion about universals or properties. In this respect, Korner throws his hat into that horrifically large body of literature and interest of an area of metaphysics which is both the most ancient and yet one of the hot topics of the past century.

Part of me thinks that such an analysis of categorial frameworks as a theory of universals is not very prospective. On the other hand there may be a suggestion that categorial frameworks are normative logical constraints. If the ‘universals’ category notion is Aristotelian, then the normative conception is Kantian. The story does not end here, it seems. Korner seems to be thinking much a wider conception. More to say about this than I have actually accorded for now.

2. Some of the organisational principles of the category-rules

Korner defines his notion of the categorial framework. Some features are curious to me:

i. Some terminology is used but not really defined, they seem to draw from various historical metaphysical things:

a. a person is different to a characteristic; but of course the latter can itself within the set of the former: example:

Napoleon Bonaparte is a person
Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat is a person/thing
Napoleon Bonaparte may contain a set of characteristics: we may say of other things that they are Napoleon Bonaparte-like if they share characteristics of the original thing ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’ (such as maniacal nature, grandeur delusions, height envy etc)

b. There is a distinction between an attribute and an object. The notion of ‘attribute’ has Spinozist connotations.

c. The categorial framework seems to use sets: the following kinds of issues are considered of these sets:

i. Whether a set has mutual exclusivity of another set
ii. Mutual exclusivity can be ‘violated’ or allowed iff one of the sets is empty
iii. An empty set may be constured into or replaced by a non-empty set in an ontology: if a set of natural properties is empty, then we may drop it for a larger set of ‘maximal’ properties

d. Definitions:

i. What is a natural classification vs an artificial one? This distinction is not clear to me
ii. What is the difference between a maximal and a non-maximal scheme/class?
iii. What is a ‘total’ class? Is it okay for a classificatory scheme to have such a thing in an ontology?

2. What frameworks seem to do:

Frameworks seem to be for Korner an analysis of how we actually do behave intellectually. It is in  a sense a thesis about the history of ideas. As such, we seem not to commit or refute a single system, but Korner’s notion may be an analysis of generic features of these ‘frameworks’ which we may historicise, I am trying to vocalise an alternative conception, but I struggle to (although I think there definately is one)



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