From Bhaskar’s The Possibility of Naturalism:

What properties do societies possess that might make them possible objects of knowledge for us? My strategy in developing an answer to this question will be effectively based on a pincer movement. But in deploying the pincer I shall concentrate first on the ontological question of the properties that societies possess, before shifting to the epistemological question of how these properties make them possible objects of knowledge for us. This is not an arbitrary order of development. It reflects the condition that, for transcendental realism, it is the nature of objects that determines their cognitive possibilities for us; that, in nature, it is humanity that is contingent and knowledge, so to speak, accidental. Thus it is because sticks and stones are solid that they can be picked up and thrown, not because they can be picked up and thrown that they are solid (though that they can be handled in this sort of way may be a contingently necessary condition for our knowledge of their solidity). (25)

Setting aside the question of what properties societies must have to be known, here we get the basic structure of Bhaskar’s form of transcendental argument. Where the transcendental idealist begins with the question of what our minds must be like for knowledge to be possible, the transcendental realist begins with the question of what the world must be like for it to be knowable.

About these ads