Thursday, February 5, 2015

"The Naturalistic Idealism of American Philosopher John William Miller: His Concept of 'Midworld' Applied to Philosophical Ecology" (conference abstract)

"Naturalistic Idealism: John William Miller and Philosophical Ecology" 

Leon Niemoczynski
Immaculata University

In this paper I attend to the naturalism (and idealism) of the American philosopher John William Miller (1895-1978).  I explore Miller's concept of the "midworld" and  uncovering its relationship to the notion of ontological "scale" within philosophical ecology.  Specifically, I argue that just as reality is ontologically flat - so "ordinal" and of "ontological parity" pace the ontologies of Justus Buchler and Robert S. Corrington - reality's ontological depth and breadth stretches to meet axiological value as well, most especially considering the reality of relational value. Relations on the level of the ant and its environment, for example, are not only "just as real as" but are also "just as axiologically ecologically significant as" the human relation to its world, thus forming a common world of environmental value.  To say that these relations are each as important as the other is not to say a.) that they are absolutely relative to the agents involved or b.) that relations collapse into the flat reality of one, univocal relation.  Rather, there are varying "scales" of ontological relation where each varying scale has just as much value as the next.  I think Miller's notion of "midworld" can add something to philosophical ecology in this respect: one gains a better appreciation for how other agents interact with their own environments, and yet those particular environments affect other particular environments within a larger scale of universal value. Axiological value is one although the perspectives and relations between perspectives are many.