Cultural objects: dialectical empirical (method) and understanding (epistemological act)
Cultural objects (e.g. law) exist in the experience and are valuable axiologically speaking. Consider, for example, the Venus of Milo in the Louvre Museum. The value of these objects appears as a quality. In the case of the Venus of Milo beauty only participates as its axiological value. We say that it is beautiful in a similar way to how we say it is white, but we only refer to its whiteness since such is the colour of its marble.
It possible to distinguish between “substrate” and “sense” in cultural objects. Substrate is related to the material beneath human activity. That raw material has meaning (sense) depending on the psychological intention that the sculptor had when making the Venus of Milo. The sculpture is the objectified intention in the cultural object. By its own definition, cultural knowledge is a knowledge of values. Every cultural object consists of a substrate and a sense in synergy.
The intuition of the cultural object is double: the sensitive intuition of the substrate and the emotional/rational intuition of the value. In other words, the substrate is a datum of perception external to the substrate, directly captured by our sight, our hearing, or our touch, while the value to value is directly captured by our reason or emotions.
The sense of a cultural object is the objectified valuation of the substrate. Beyond the substrate, cultural objects refer to the object itself as well as the behaviour or human conduct applied to it. Therefore, the epistemological act in cultural objects is peculiar because it is not an act of apprehension, but an act of taking a position by the knowing subject. For this reason, with regard to the cultural object, it implies always “seeing” them with some position (whether we acknowledge this or not, whether we are aware, self-conscious or not).
The epistemological act or act of consciousness is called understanding. To understand is to know the meaning of something in its “being” when it is being.
Every valuation contains self-awareness, unlike what happens with intellection and explanation. That is to say, every valuation of something when it assigns some axiological quality also contains the consciousness of value with its reference to the subject for whom it is valued. For example, when we see a landscape with our physical eyes, the consciousness of what is seen does not integrate with the consciousness of seeing. In fact, there is a field and nothing more, requiring an act of reflection to add to the seen the awareness of seeing. On the other hand, if we value that same landscape as beautiful, we feel, contemplating it as a presence as integral spectators because its beauty verifies our spirit.
The suitable method to know a cultural object is the dialectical empirical method, since this is what is constituted on the epistemological act of understanding. Epistemological dialectics in general is the synthesis carried out by the spirit as what spontaneous activity and characteristic of a thesis and a hetero-thesis based on a mutual totalizing implication and it does not need to be an antithesis like Hegel suggested. The antithesis is only a particular case or a peculiar modality of hetero-thesis. The dialectic in the epistemological sense that we are talking about here has nothing to do with the dialectic in the formal sense that will be discussed later, for example in the Pure Theory of Law. In this way, we have access to cultural objects since our understanding circulates from the substrate to the meaning and vice versa.
|Object||Existence||Experience||Valuable (axiologically)||Method||Epistemological act|
|Ideal||No||No||Neutral||Deductive rational||Intellectual intuition|
|Cultural||Yes||Yes||Positive or Negative||Dialectical empirical||Understanding|
|Metaphysical||Yes||No||Positive or Negative|
Cultural objects (cont.)
Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).
Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).
Thursday 06th May 2021
Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez