Cf: In the Way of Inquiry • Formal Apology
Using “form” in the sense of “abstract structure”, the focus of my
interest in this investigation is limited to the formal properties
of the inquiry process. Among its chief constituents are numbered
all the thinking and unthinking processes supporting the ability to
learn and to reason.
This formal apology, the apologetics of declaring a decidedly formal intent,
will be used on numerous occasions to beg off a host of material difficulties
and thus avoid the perceived necessity of meeting a multitude of conventional
The first use of the formal apology is to rehabilitate certain classes
of associations between concepts otherwise marked as category mistakes.
The conversion is achieved by flipping from one side of the concept's
dual aspect to the other as the context demands. Thus it is possible
in selected cases to reform the characters of category mistakes in the
manner of categorical “retakes” or “double-takes”.
The second use of the formal apology is to permit the tentative extension of
concepts to novel areas, giving them experimental trial beyond the cases and
domains where their use is already established in the precedents of accustomed
habit and successful application.
This works to dispel the “in principle” objection that any category distinction
puts a prior constraint on the recognition of similar structure between materially
dissimilar domains. It leaves the issue a matter to be settled by post hoc judgment,
a matter of what fits best “in practice”.