We have been focusing on the expression of knowledge through language and especially with the presuppositional role of the core concepts of ordinary language. The overwhelming temptation, nurtured by our historical traditions, is to presuppose that the concept of spatio-temporal objects is foundational because spatio-temporal objects are the primary existents. This foundational concept, Husserl and Heidegger insist, is rooted in our linguistic practice of articulating reality through the imposition of objectifying concepts. This practice presupposes a way of being in the world, or the noetic-noematic experiences in which objects are constituted as correlates of consciousness. It follows that any attempt to understand human beings simply as objects of scientific investigations involves a radical inconsistency. Heidegger extends this to the contention that attempts to understand the being of beings must differ radically from any science of being He also realized that the language of physics is dehumanizing on a categorical level. The method of physics is impersonal, flattening, self-coordinating teamwork. Physics embodies knowledge based on impersonal acultural representations of reality. LCP represents the limits of what can be consistently said through the one systematic extension of an ordinary language basis that led to modern science. It does not supply any basis for understanding distinctively human characteristics. It would not be improved by any attempt to put it on a more personal or cultural basis.
This existential psychology and fundamental ontology are not our concern. An appreciation of the analysis supporting it, however, can have a liberating influence on the questions we have been considering. LCP is grounded in the core concepts of ordinary language. These, in turn, are grounded in our way of being in the world. The basic categories of LCP are rooted in the macroscopic objects of ordinary experience. Our concept ‘object’ is intrinsically correlated with such macroscopic objects as primary exemplars. An unrestricted extension of this categorical system to quantum experiments led to contradictions. Bohr devised a way of avoiding contradictions by restricting the use of concepts. Heidegger realized that quantum mechanics manifested the basic limitation of the concept ‘object’. His paper, “What is a thing?” was stimulated by hearing Heisenberg lecture on the new quantum theory40 Quantum physics, especially in the measurement interpretation, has a symbiotic relation to classical physics. A new fundamental theory with its own proper foundation need not, and probably could not, be grounded in this categorical system. It would be further removed from the basic human condition of being in the world. It could take events as basic, presuppose a 10-dimensional space-time, have supersymmetry as an organizing principle, or some foundation not yet anticipated. On such issues the traditional realism/anti-realism debates are irrelevant. These new theories cannot be ruled out on the grounds that spatio-temporal objects are the primary existents. It is more productive to focus on the role and limitations of a categorical system rooted in our way of being in the world.
Against this background the problem of ontological relativity admits of an easier resolution. Theories (or paradigms or whatever) do propose new entities (phlogiston, caloric atoms, neutrinos, quarks) and new properties (ethereal rigidity, magnetic susceptibility, displacement, spin, strangeness). As hypothetical aspects of a new theory these are tentative, subject to critical evaluation, acceptance or rejection. Those that become so accepted that they supply factual presuppositions for further investigations are
40See especially Chevalley (1990). My presentation of this final section was stimulated by my correspondence with her.