Thursday, August 18, 2011

History, Relativity, and Powers: Clarifying Process Part III

Below is a response to Ben's question from Naught Thought, who must be an excellent student as he continuous asks excellent and immediately pertinent questions.  I wish more established scholars did this, although they are probably busier too..  I have reproduced the questions:

1-How does event relate to history in terms of relations relating to non-relations that is – is history a non-absolutized series of events that become history when certain events occur which direct the the path of future events?
2-I agree with what you critique as quasi-Aristotelianism and this is why I like approaches that are powers all the way down or at least theories of powers that don’t rely on things have them (having powers that is).
3-While you critique this move of powers all the way done I wonder how this relates to my own attempt at having kinds of transcendental regimes ...

I think a clear answer is an exposition, not just an explanation, and thus I answered as I did.

Other than Experience and Nature, reading primary sources on Dewey is not recommended, as one has to mine his books and become a specialist to gain enough to work with.  Read Thomas Alexander's John Dewey's Theory of Art, Experience, and Nature first.  Pragmatist scholars are likely to disagree with that recommendation, and I am willing to fight that battle.

I critique the move of "powers" all the way down, but let me explain.  A "power" is a 1) capacitiy/pure possiiblity (dunamis), 2) telic activity (kinesis) and 3) realization unto actuality (entelechy).  1) & 2) are necessary, while 3) is what the power achieves if not inhibited.  However, as entelechies are composable in ways not known in advance and are thus a source of creativity (generativity), there is a difference between a merely active power and a complex/nexus/dynamic system of powers that give rise to stable actual events (concretions of their composed entelechies).  That is why it is not, to be precise, "powers" all the way down as powers implies only 1) and 2) but not 3) or its complexes.

"History" refers to the morphology of the configuration or dynamic system of powers and actual events.  "Time" is not a sufficient concept, because it cannot capture the intricacies of organization' e.g., as I've said, the configuration is also causally efficacious, but that is historical and not temporal.  Obviously, "history" does not mean "a series of events," because a "process" is not a mere procession of unrelated or simply related events.  The earlier events constitute the later ones, e.g., the impact of my foot on the rock constitutes my subsequences consciousness of kicking that rock.  "Temporality" refers to the constitutions and relations of one event to another, possible and actual, whereas "history" primarily denotes their actual configuration, whole complexes and environments, and not just this event to that event (temporality).  Apologies, as I'm responding quickly.  A process is not a simple symmetric series of otherwise unrelated events, and that's part of the reason that "history" and "temporality" have non-conventional denotations.  cf. Whitehead objective immortality.

By the way, there is no "history in terms of relations relating to non-relations," because nothing can be unrelated, else we cannot speak of it.  There might be something absolutely unrelated, but then we could never experience or know it, so I just ignore that possibility and it does likewise.  This does not mean that all there is, is relations; it means that whatever exists must be related.  That said, I take the modalities of being to include more than brute existence, and it is always possible that some possibility has never existed but could exist, as possibility is a distinct modality of being not dependent upon actuality.  Real possibilities, of course, become dependent through existing.

I read Schelling's Freedom book intensely, as well as other literature, which has convinced me that I should refrain from making anything but the most basic claim.  Hence, I can only remind you of the Peirce quote on Schelling that I gave you, but I cannot address "transcendental regimes."

1 comment:

  1. Clarification. "History" more connotes "chronology," whereas "temporality" is primarily the relativity of the event to its relata.


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