Bridges

5

“Perhaps it would not satisfy completely, and that is what the esteemed author would have for all the diligence employed, whereas with a promise he could easily benefit himself and others even more than if he had written a prodigy of a system.”

“When the word “mediation” is merely mentioned, everything becomes so magnificent and grandiose that I do not feel well but am oppressed and chafed. Have compassion on me in only this one respect; exempt me from mediation …”

Kierkegaard – Prefaces

Here, I wish to make certain connections between the various articles on this site. For these connections, I take the metaphor of bridges. Some of these bridges should be straight freeways, undergirded with iron, but many will seem for now like ricketty precarious swinging walkways, with shaky handrails of bamboo and old rope. Above, I quote Kierkegaard satirizing systematic philosophers who, in the wake of Hegel, give promissory notes to the effect that they will soon deliver “The System” – for him, the note is, for its brevity, preferable to the full-blown system. Kierkegaard, like Nietzsche, distrusted such systematizers, feeling that such systematization is inevitably falsification, forcing reality onto the mythical procrustean bed.
My “bridges” could be the equivalent of Kierkegaard’s promissory notes of, or perhaps more in lieu of, “The System” – I have the system-builder’s ambition, but alas, maybe not the stamina. So rather than here unveiling a pristine, crystalline architectonic, I will attempt to indicate some sort of unity by way of noting linkages between concepts across all the different articles. Without at least a glance at the other articles, what I say here will seem at best gnomic; this is not intended as an introduction, so do not start here.

NOTE: I have considered the use of hyperlinks, but for now don’t want to insert them for stylistic reasons.

2d3

Most of my thought is underpinned by a generally “materialist” outlook with which I was once preoccupied for a long while, but which is hardly directly argued for in these writings – the nearest would be some remarks in “The Mind Ouroboros”. However, I hope that a materialist / naturalist / physicalist / realist sensibility is easily detected in general. Materialism is usually taken as a position within metaphysics, or ontology, and realism as a position within epistemology. The materialist orientation is hardly unusual or remarkable in philosophy, but at some point my materialism took a novel inflection into an awareness and recognition of the importance of relations, patterns, and regularities, and this metaphysical notion is for the moment best expressed in the post “Relationalism”. Parallel to this inflection of materialism is an inflection of my realism by an acknowlegement of the importance of schemata – a Kantian element.

1d

Bridges of Duality – The Importance of Trade

“Duality” is in many ways the acceptable face of dualism: it is a mastered opposition, often, once grasped, expressed with the metaphor “two sides of the same coin”. To continue in an economic mode of metaphor, a duality is two islands linked by the bridge of commerce – each side of a duality needs the other.

The most significant duality is that between patterns and schemata. Without some purchase on the identification of patterns or regularities, schemata and ontology would be merely an unmotivated classification exercise or procedure. The whole raison d’etre for a schema or an ontology is as an aid to identifying patterns, primarily at and for our level and manner of existence.

With pattern and regularity, we must group maximization. Maximization is a core concept within my aesthetics, but transcends this – in its subjective aspect, it is a vital task of mind to identify patterns. In its objective aspect, it is a feature of complexity, indeed in algorithmic information theory a definition of complexity.

A top-level ontology is an attempt to specify the way frames or schemata usually fall in terms of their most abstract categories.

Another important duality is that between complexity and creativity; complexity, the more primary of the pair, is both cause of a need for, and the means by which we can achieve, creativity.

I include Darwinian evolutionary theory (the theory of natural selection) within complexity theory, as its most well-established aspect. Stuart Kauffman has perhaps been the most forthright in arguing that, though an immense achievement, it might not be the only major framework needed. He proposes, quite plausibly, his own theory of spontaneous self-organization as another such framework.

I note in Aesthetics but will repeat here the affinity between Darwinian evolution and creativity – both involve a binary of mutation / variation, and selection; a random element and a selective element.

Within complexity, there is something of a duality between the aspect of complexity considered in my article on Maximization – algorithmic complexity; and the aspect of complexity considered in my article on Complexity – which looks more to those thinkers rooted in the thermodynamics of open systems and evolutionary theory. This duality is partly one of description and explanation – the algorithmic approach is descriptive, even quantitative, and the thermodynamic / evolutionary approach explanatory of how complexity arises in the real, most notably the biological, world.

Our intelligence involves flexibility, beyond that of lower creatures. Thus, too much predictability equates with boredom. I think the aesthetic is very much bound up with this, a balance of predictability and unpredictability.

By contrast, “Dualism” [see below]

2d2

Higher Lands and Lower Lands

Relationalism is a very speculative and rudimentary attempt to expound a metaphysics based primarily on relations using graph-theoretical notions, and this misty highland connects with the lower lands of pattern and regularity, both very much relationalist concepts, and maximization. Perhaps one need not commit to the extreme version of relationalism of the article, but merely be prepared to give relationships their ontological due.

Relationalism, pattern, regularity and maximization, and schemata and frames, all fit very well with the generally formalist tendency at the core of the article Aesthetics.

Complexity deals with cyclicity, a general feature of life and metabolism, and The Mind Ouroboros with Edelman’s concept of re-entrance, the psychological form of the same. A unity of life and mind is discernible.

Cyclicity has a strong duality with closure. If either is regarded as having primacy, it would be cyclicity.

Re-entrance is more fundamental than frames / schemata. The Mind Ouroboros indicates their unity (“Squaring the Circle”).

Dialectics, although in general regarded as a proto-complexity theory, is also in its subjective aspect, as dialectical thought, related to creativity, especially considered as bisociation.

4d

Mainlands and Islands

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee.”            

John Donne

Conversely, though not in opposition to Donne, every landmass on Earth (itself our island planet) either is, or is part of, an island. Europe is a segment of the Eurasian landmass, which for now just about includes Africa (depending on the ontological significance one gives to the Suez Canal). “The Main” is itself an island. Perhaps it was only with the discovery of America, a sort of “other main”, and the mapping of the world with this new knowledge, that this became realized.
Complexity Theory is a large landmass, the mainland to the island of Dialectics which lies off its coast, an antique place, still treated with religious reverence by some, though in the main, the citizens of Complexity regard it as having been superseded both economically and politically in the region. Thus, Dialectics is a sort of proto-complexity theory.
Two other islands off the coast of Complexity are the sister isles GST and Cybernetics.

1d2

 

Dualisms and Distant Lands

 

2d1

Bridges 37____________________________________________________________________________________________

The artworks sampled above are –

1

Landscape of the Four Seasons (Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers) – Sōami

2

Landscape with a Hundred Bridges – Katsushika Hokusai

and

4

Bridge at Iwakuni  – Hasegawa Settan.

 

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About David Ruaune

My main interests are philosophy, psychology and semiotics.
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