In Livia Kohn (ed.), Coming to Terms with Timelessness. Daoist Time in Comparative Perspective. St. Petersburg, FL, USA: pp. 26-49 (2021)

Mercedes Valmisa
Gettysburg College
This paper leads us in reflections regarding the ontological status of a situation inspired by two main sources: the Zhuangzi--a multifarious compilation from Warring States China (ca. 4th c. BCE)--and José Ortega y Gasset's (1883-1955) Unas Lecciones de Metafísica (Some Lessons in Metaphysics)--the transcripts of a course on metaphysics by a Spanish philosopher of the early 20th century. Much as other ontologically subjective entities and events, situations do not preexist the intentional subject: instead, they are created alongside our act of noticing. In Classical Chinese, shi , commonly rendered "propensity" and the closest the language comes to our concept of situation, denotes a dynamic process that incorporates the conscious subjective agent as well as other entities as constitutive elements. Here a situation is not reducible to the discrete phenomena and events that we can discern within a given space-time; rather, it necessitates our thinking about it to arise. These ontological reflections are important for a philosophy of action. They help us notice the role of attention in the creation of situations--as in the creation of worlds--hence the importance of understanding what the agent notices and fails to notice, what we privilege as worthy of our attention and what passes inadvertent among the world's plural affordances. The relational affordances that we actualize and reify as constituting a situation depend on what we are socialized and educated to see when looking at the world, thus situations and agents co-create one another over time. This acknowledgement is crucial to retrain our agency in order to illuminate our blind spots, overcome our uncritical certainties which generate absolutist tendencies, and move beyond fixed, reduced, and contingent corners from which to interpret the world.
Keywords situation   comparative philosophy   Zhuangzi   Ortega y Gasset   ontology   philosophy of action   affordances   attention
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The Construction of Social Reality.John R. Searle - 1995 - Philosophy 71 (276):313-315.
The Fixation of Belief.Charles S. Peirce - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 37-49.
The Philosophy of the Daodejing.Hans-Georg Moeller - 2006 - Columbia University Press.

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