Evoking a new way of thinking.

      Key Vocabulary: Fundierung

           Fundierung is the ultimate expression of context dependence.  As Rota put it: “All whats "are" by the grace of some Fundierung relation whose context-dependence cannot be shoved under the rug. Viewing, in manifold modes, is a function; seeing is the facticity that founds viewing … Western philosophy since the Greeks has been haunted by a reductionist anxiety, steadfastly refusing to draw the consequences of taking Fundierung seriously. The history of Western philosophy is riddled with attempts, some of them extremely clever, to reduce Fundierung relations to "something else" that will satisfy our cravings for certification of existence. We find it inadmissible that "unreal" functions should turn out to matter, rather than "real" objects or neurons in people's brains.”

           Fundierung is the invisibility we afford the pen as the instrument when we are focused on accomplishing the writing.  We look past the "foundation" (fundierung) which affords the very activity we seek to accomplish.   The danger lies in our reaction at those times when we are forced to overcome the fundierung relation and look explicitly at the medium of which we are making use (as when the pen runs out of ink).  The success of the IPhone is due to fundierung (we can ignore the phone while making use of the apps) and the opposite (the very need to be aware  of  our  interactions  with  the  phone)  describes  much  of  Microsoft's  problems  in  the marketplace.   (Blackberries by this analysis found themselves in the middle - often with apps that afforded fundierung and yet demanding enough of attention to be recognized as "using a blackberry.")

           “Tools are further striking examples of Fundierung relations. Pencil, paper, and ink are tools I use in writing. They are normally taken as material objects. But this is a mistake, one of many we are forced to make in our everyday dealings. Pen, paper, and ink are functions in Fundierung relations. The pen with which I write I ordinarily take to be a material object. Strictly speaking, the pen is neither material nor object: it is a function that lets me write. I recognize this object as a pen only by virtue of my familiarity with its writing functions. The facticities "ink," "plastic," "small metal ball," etc., of which the pen is "made" (as we ordinarily but imprecisely say) let this odd-shaped object function as a pen. Like all facticities, they are indispensable in a pen's function; this indispensability of facticities leads to the mistaken "identification" of facticities with the function of pens. The absurdity of this reduction can be realized by eidetic variations: no amount of staring at this object as an assemblage of plastic, metal, and ink will reveal that the object we are staring at "is" a pen, unless my previous familiarity lets me view the pen through the facticities upon which it is founded.” (Rota)

           For our purposes, the fundierung relationship which is often denied is that of synecdoche.  If one is making use of label or category, it can be helpful to ask if the fundierung of that relation matters.  Often the mere raising the fundierung question is sufficient to shift the focus from the Science I world of facticities to the Science II world of functions.


See:  Gian-Carlo Rota, Fundierung as a Logical Concept