The platist school

Abstract: The ways of theorizing the relationship between matter and spirit are divided into three great eras: incompatibility, assimilation, coincidence. The third starts today.

1st era: incompatibility

The insoluble contrast between material and spiritual has been recognized since the dawn of humanity. The approaches used during the first era, until the middle of the twentieth century, were reductive monisms and dualism.

Reductive monisms: religions, which make human and matter emanations of the divine. Monisms of identification with divinity. But we must also include in these reductive visions the scientism of the early twentieth century, monism reversed to the previous one: the mind would be an epiphenomenon of matter and the fundamental laws governing it. The proximity of these two monisms is astonishing; Only the guiding principle changes its face: impersonal for science, humanistic for religion.

In this era dualism is the only way out for eclectic thinkers. Desiring to include all phenomena, they refuse the ease of reductionism. Dualism is not declared as a solution. On the contrary, it makes it possible to confess one’s powerlessness in the face of the manifest incompatibility between matter and spirit. Having no satisfactory explanation, let us keep them clearly separated.

2nd era: assimilation

This era is linked to the previous one in the middle of the twentieth century. The idealists of matter and spirit try to assimilate more fully the other aspect of reality. On the one hand, non-religious holistic theories are born, which make the infinitely divisible material an aspect of the Whole. Panpsychism. While scientists do the same in reverse: neuroscience reintegrates the mind into matter. It is assimilated without being denigrated its intentions, but these are illusions, a simple aspect of neural matter.

A third way appears in some scientists, marginal in the twentieth, Bertalanffy, Brillouin, Koestler, Le Moigne, Kauffman, Morin, Maturana: it is the recognition of complexity. But this dimension, which is essentially transdisciplinary, is not the subject of truly organized research. Ironic for a specialty whose subject is organization? Complexity is also treated as a mere aspect of matter by the scientific mainstream, which is clearly reductionist.

The platist school

The platist school drives the nail today, at the end of the 2nd era. As the ultimate resurgence of reductionism, it considers complexity as an intrinsic property of the mechanisms of reality. Reality in itself is one, and complexity is only that of its aspects (Piccinini, which we will reread later). There is no complex dimension to theorize independently, any more than it was previously necessary to theorize epiphenomena.

A conflict could arise between the platists, because there are platist theories for different levels of reality, one for the fundamental origin of matter, one for the mind flattened on neurons (Chater). Together, they recreate the complex dimension they wish to eliminate. Troublesome…

3rd era: coincidence

You’re in luck, it starts this morning! Finally, the passenger train is already well crowded. By the majority of our congeners in fact. They are equipped with a body and a mind, need both and do not want to be rid of one or the other. Many scientists, and of course philosophers, came on board. Heirs of eclecticism and its distrust of reductionism. Why confine one’s thought to matter, or to a pure spiritual ideal?

You will reread with profit these pioneers of complexity that I have cited, whose thinking remains alive. But it is necessary to extend their work, to install complexity as a fundamental dimension, in order not to devalue any aspect of it. Positioning the objects of the real and the spiritual in the complex dimension makes it possible to strengthen them, concretize them, complete them. They coincide. This is the work undertaken on this blog. You will become familiar with its basics with the help of the articles in the ‘fundamental’ section.

I end this history of mind/matter research with a short but more advanced dive into platism, showing that it is a scientific idealism and not a universal reflection. Finally, we will visit the Chapel of Humanity, created by Auguste Comte, a great promoter of scientism, in the company of the philosopher Michel Eltchaninoff

At the heart of platism

For Piccinini, reality in itself is monistic and inaccessible. We can only grasp aspects, properties of reality in itself manifesting themselves according to the context. Piccinini of course takes complexity into account. Its ‘aspects’ are upside-down Russian dolls: each leap of complexity is contained within the previous aspects, is not an addition but a retrenchment. How are all aspects present at the beginning in the real itself, this monistic block? Platicism sweeps away the problem in the inaccessibility of reality er se and in the deification of mathematics.

The alternative to platism

A more exhaustive position is this: Reality per se is not accessible, neither as an experience —we cannot experience the being of a photon— nor as a fundamental constitution —it can only be represented by a model. That doesn’t make it an entirely inaccessible unknown —it’s the idea that we could only represent it. Because our representations are part of the ‘block’ Reality per se. Our own experience of being is an inclusion, a clue on the block. We are not “extra-real” equipped with a spationef and navigating in a space around reality. We are in it, equipped with epistemic tools generated by this reality. We are on the verge of its expansion, if it is not already fully determined.

Idealists do not expand their minds, they amputate them

This misconception that the mind is ‘extra-real’ corresponds to scientistic idealism. By removing from the model the mind that conceived it, by discarding this causality, the scientist fundamentally creates a dualism and not a monistic vision of reality, as the idea of the universe-block would suppose. Obscuring her spirit, the platist becomes the block, she is an integral part of it. But unlike the previous position, she left aside her impressions, her consciousness, her causal intentions. She is no longer individualized in this block-universe. She is a simple emanation of fundamental equations, and her impressions are illusions, an aspect of the block. An aspect for whom, in the end? This is where the platist recreates an ‘extra-real’ observer, something to whom the aspects would appear.

On this point the scientistic idealist differs from the mystical idealists. The platist seeks to conceal her mind, while for the mystic, the ‘extra-real’ space is an authentic, accepted, populated, idealized universe when it is rid of vices and conflicts.

Thus the platist is too stuck in the block of reality, the mystic is too detached from it. Both lose part of their mind, unable to fit into a monistic reality.

If what designates illusions is another illusion, “what thinks” for the platist or “what makes us think” for the mystic, what do we designate as such, finally?

The Chapel of Humanity

Young scientists should visit the Chapelle de l’Humanité, a Parisian temple created by Auguste Comte, the philosopher of the early nineteenth century who advocated a strict obedience to scientific principles. A polytechnician, he explained in the Course of Positive Philosophy that we have erred in theological and metaphysical considerations of the world. The true rational approach has no need to look for the origin of things; it must focus on the laws that govern them. Replace the childish ‘why’ with the ‘how’ of the scientist and the engineer.

Strolling past the busts of famous people, the stelae decorated with moral maxims, and stopping in front of the reliquary that houses the Positivist Catechism of Comte , Michel Eltchaninoff wonders: Why did such a champion of scientism give birth to this crypto-religious cult? Delirium caused by the disappearance of Clotilde de Vaux, his platonic love? Or deeper perception that the inscription of all phenomena in a rational chain does not answer all questions, and also constitutes a simple belief?

Completing one’s existence

This awareness comes with time among the platists. Pure scientism ends up appearing limited, a simple belief, a hard and inhuman mental object that must be put in a softer basket so as not to skin one’s mind to use it in all circumstances.

We must wish platists and other mental pressure reducers that they mature and discover the double look, thus avoiding, without denying themselves, missing out on half of their existence.


1 thought on “The platist school”

  1. Interesting. At the least. Today, there were results of a survey on values. In the United States. Not surprisingly, American notions of the importance of ethics, honesty, integrity and morality are more effectively nil. I bought a can of beer today. The advertised cost: $2.69. The charge: $3.64. I won’t buy beer from that clerk again. Especially after he advertised his concealed-carry permit for a forty-five automatic. I don’t know his claim was bluff. Nor, do I know it is fact. I don’t like him. Nor, do I like another employee there. The latter person gets my respect because HE is genuine—does not patronize—does not cheat the public, so far as I know. I received a nice thank you today from a student, based on my comment on his paper. All good.


Leave a Comment