Frode Kjosavik and Camilla Serck-Hanssen recently published the book Metametaphysics and the Sciences: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives, a product of the CAS project the two philosophers led in 2015/16.
Four years ago, Frode Kjosavik, Professor of Philosophy at the School of Economics and Business at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), was in the middle of his first semester as a project leader at CAS.
He led the project Disclosing the Fabric of Reality – the Possibility of Metaphysics in the Age of Science, together with Professor Camilla Serck-Hanssen, who is now the Scientific Director at the Centre. They argued that even in an enlightened, science-informed world there are questions the sciences do not have the tools to answer. These may be questions one can seek to answer within metaphysics, though, “if one develops the appropriate philosophical methods”.
Professor Kjosavik, what do you remember best from your time as a project leader at CAS?
The intense discussions in the offices and hallways, often at odd hours, which were extremely targeted ones, with the best people in their fields. I also have warm memories from the daily lunches, where we interacted with members from the other CAS groups.
Why did you apply to CAS in the first place?
We thought this would be a great opportunity to boost our research, and to build a more extensive network for our philosophical pursuits.
How did your research develop after the year at CAS? What has the year at CAS meant for your further career?
The stay at CAS was very inspiring. In writing papers, I am still benefiting from the ways in which new ideas were tried out. Last year, I edited the book Husserl’s Phenomenology of Intersubjectivity (Routledge), together with Christian Beyer and Christel Fricke, which had many contributors from our research team, so it can be regarded as a CAS volume.
You and your project co-leader, Camilla Serck-Hanssen, also recently published the book Metametaphysics and the Sciences: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives (Routledge). That volume addresses issues at the intersection between philosophy and science, and Fellows from the CAS project wrote nearly all the chapters in the book. Congratulations!
First, what kind of metaphysical issues are being addressed in this volume?
Thanks! One concern is with the legitimacy of metaphysics with a view to the respectability of science – which is what our meta-metaphysics is really about. Also, we deal with the fact that metaphysics, like science, has its own limitations – it is to be ambitious but not overly so. My chapter is on method and evidence in critical metaphysics. Moreover, specific issues that lie at the intersection with science are treated within our framework, like infinity in mathematics (Cantor) and symmetry in physics (Weyl).
Can you say something about the role of metaphysics in the sciences today?
There is no escape from metaphysics. For instance, there are always pressing questions related to the role of our own conceptions and constructions in the encounter with reality.
When it comes to being a CAS project leader, what do you know now that you wish you knew back in 2015?
Well, I think it was easy to find one’s way once we had moved in. You are completely shielded from the outside world, you have a wonderful administrative staff at your disposal, and you can spend all your time together with a deeply committed research team. It was clear to me at an early stage that it is essential, though, to have good plans for publications and for continued, post-CAS cooperation.