What can be said, and what must be kept in silence: relativism, skepticism, apophaticism

Olga E. Stol­yaro­va
Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy, Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences
Russ­ian Pres­i­den­tial Acad­e­my of Nation­al Econ-omy and Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion

What can be said, and what must be kept in silence: rel­a­tivism, skep­ti­cism, apophati­cism

Abstract. The arti­cle con­sid­ers the philo­soph­i­cal posi­tion of crit­i­cism of meta­physics in the con­text of neg­a­tive philo­soph­i­cal tra­di­tions of skep­ti­cism, rel­a­tivism and apophat­ic ontothe­ol­o­gy. The ques­tion is raised about what is the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence between the neg­a­tive posi­tions of skep­ti­cism, rel­a­tivism and apophati­cism, on the one hand, and the posi­tion of real­ism, on the oth­er. It is shown that a pos­i­tive ontol­ogy that allows for knowl­edge of the world, and a neg­a­tive ontol­ogy that pro­hibits knowl­edge of the world, both speak about the knowa­bil­i­ty of the know­able and the unknowa­bil­i­ty of the unknow­able. How­ev­er, phi­los­o­phy would have end­ed, almost not hav­ing begun, with this triv­ial tau­tol­ogy, if it did not think in the sub­stan­tial way. Sub­stan­tive ques­tions refer to the estab­lish­ment of the bound­aries between the know­ing sub­ject and the world; they are asked about the nature of the con­nec­tion between the know­ing sub­ject and the world, or about the rea­sons for the absence of con­nec­tion (about the caus­es of the rup­ture) between the know­ing sub­ject and what lies out­side his or her cog­ni­tion (“Great Out­doors”). It is shown that a neg­a­tive ontol­ogy, which lim­its our think­ing and affirms the unknowa­bil­i­ty of the world as a whole (the absolute), nev­er­the­less remains an ontol­ogy, i. e. a con­cep­tu­al expres­sion of our com­pre­hen­sion of being and the con­di­tions of its unknowa­bil­i­ty. Thus, it is shown that any crit­i­cism of meta­physics, includ­ing rel­a­tivism, requires an ontol­ogy. This point of view ren­ders rel­a­tivism harm­less and allows us to con­clude that phi­los­o­phy as a whole (includ­ing both meta­physics and crit­i­cism of meta­physics) is onto­log­i­cal­ly root­ed knowl­edge.

Key­words: meta­physics, crit­i­cism of meta­physics, ontol­ogy, rel­a­tivism, real­ism, skep­ti­cism, apophat­ic tra­di­tion of ontothe­ol­o­gy, real­ism, ide­al­ism, mate­ri­al­ism.



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