Metaphysical deixis

I need to look into whether metaphysicians think in terms of deixis. The idea is that even when we speak in the most explicit way about the most mundane matters, and the local deixis of the utterance is utterly fixed there is an implicit deixis beneath that pertains to the interrelations of all particular realities to ultimate reality. I’m calling this metaphysical deixis. I’ll try to sketch out what I’m trying to get at.

Most of us (at least those who belong to the professional class) adhere — often uncritically to an ontology that is metaphysically founded on the third-person singular. Let’s call this metaphysical stance “atomistic objectivity”. Atomic objects (“that”, 3rd person singular) combine into atomic systems (“those”, 3rd person plural). From this emerges consciousness (“I”, 1st person singular) who form relationships with others (“you”, 2nd person singular) to produce relationships — (“we”, 1st person plural) and society (“y’all”, 2nd person plural). 3s, 3p, 1s, 2s, 1p, 2p.

Traditional western religious people tend to root their metaphysics in a very different ultimate. The ultimate being is God (2nd person singular), who created the universe (3rd person plural) and everything in it (3rd person singular), before creating each of us (1st person singular), and all of us (1st person plural) and the people outside our faith (2nd person plural). 2s, 3p, 3s, 1s, 1p, 2p. It would be interesting to look into whether the current progressivist metaphysics is the same sequence, but reversed.

Solipsists try to build out their metaphysics on the 1st person singular, proceeding from 1s to 3s to 3p, etc.


3 thoughts on “Metaphysical deixis

    1. I can’t tell either. I’m intuiting a difference between my (ab)use of deixis and indexicality, but my grasp of the proper use of deixis and indexicality is so poor that my mind boggles when I try to clarify it! I’ve been meaning to learn ethnomethodology, anyway, and indexicality is one of its central concepts, so I’m using this as an excuse to make another attempt to understand Garfinkel. Meanwhile I intend to use deixis as more or less synonymous with specification of meaning by way of “grammatical person”. As a sentence is situated in establishing its central entity, time and place — deixis — I want to say that every philosophy tacitly establishes an ultimate entity, ultimate time-reference, ultimate standpoint, and is only understood from this metaphysical deixis.

      Kant signified a shift of metaphysical deixis when he announced a Copernican revolution in philosophy. He was talking about understanding “how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term” from a shifted center-point.

      Am I making any sense at all?

    2. Ok. After a brief immersion in Garfinkel I suspect that this paper is related to what I’m trying to say, but that I’m claiming something narrower and more formal within its general vision. I’m going to make a serious attempt to understand it.

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