Levi’s Materialism Lacks Matter

A brief, but total, rebuttal of Levi Bryant’s naive semantic naturalism and radical idiocy about science as the chief philosophy

Levi Bryant: “A process is substrate neutral if it is indifferent to the material medium in which it takes place. This is how the information contained in genes is conceived by genecentric theorists like Dawkins and Dennett. Issues such as whether or not a particular chemical reaches a cell at a particular point in time, the sorts of chemicals present in the environment, temperature, the presence and absence of light, air pressure, etc., are all irrelevant to selection and development within their framework. Genes– a term, incidentally, that is notoriously difficult to define in biology, believe it or not –are for them like dynamic Aristotlean essences. They are blueprints that contain all the information for what the developed organism will be and that unfold ineluctably, inevitably, in whatever material medium they happen to inhabit. Put differently, material mediums merely carry this genetic information without contributing anything of their own to the formation of the phenotype.”

Lacques Jacan: This whole “explanation” rests on the assumption that material inferences which are formulated about chemical environments. presence and absence of light are not merely representations, but are the facts of the matter.

But, for such an explanation to have any value as a truth it is necessary that a scientific account of the functional assumptions of scientific practice be reducible to its component discursive, and non-discursive practices using only scientific vocabulary. I.e. as Brandom (1994, 2008) describes the minimum qualification of an autonomous language capable of being used to describe the world adequately-even if we spoke no other language- as scientific language is posed to be in your assumption. This is because no empirical work could begin without taking for granted the epistemic merits of certain hypothesis and some particular experimental expectations rather than others. Yet, if there is no necessary and sufficient relation between the assumed naive semantic naturalism of scientific vocabulary and the resultant picture of the world there is no warrant to believe that there are only scientific matters of fact in the world (Brandom 1994, 2002, 2008). As such, I see your whole enterprise begging a foundational question: are you on the side of the word or the world? If you are on the side of the world, the onus of justification, or your deontic commitment to explicate the material and inferential relations of incompatibility your philosophical naturalism bears with its own vocabulary, that your naturalist vocabularies actually describe the world completely, rests on you (Brandom 1994, 2002, 2008).