“Facts and Creative Exclusion” by Catherine Prueitt (University of British Columbia
Recent work in the epistemology of partisan polarization has wrestled with a growing understanding that appealing to (what are postulated to be) shared objective facts is not sufficient to lead to consensus. Disagreement does not always reflect how parties are interpreting shared facts differently, but rather may reach down to divergences over what “facts” even are. This talk engages constructively with theories of world creation emerging from the Pratyabhijñā Śaiva tradition to develop an enacted, embodied account of human realities that neither rejects facts altogether, nor adheres to the illusion that there is a single, objective reality that is the same for all. The Pratyabhijñā Śaiva tradition claims that the way that humans conceptualize their experience always involves excluding large swaths of potentially relevant information, and these conceptualizations form the contours of our worlds. Since the worlds we experience are just particular carvings of a reality that could be spliced in an infinite number of ways, our resulting realities may only partially overlap. Thinking alongside these traditions about reality as a question of partially overlapping worlds that are continuously created by the interplay of ourselves, others, and our environments opens up space for understanding the partiality of any position, as well as the constitutive role that exclusion plays in creating worlds.