PHILOSOPHY OF A SCHIZOPHRENIC
This book was originally published as ‘In Relation’.
Chapter 1 – The Person in Relation
Chapter 2 – Relation as a Contrast
Chapter 3 – Similarity & Difference: The Ground of Relation
Chapter 4 – Relational Contexts
Chapter 5 – Finale
CHAPTER 1 – THE PERSON IN RELATION
The present volume seeks to understand a fundamental aspect of human existence. It seeks to understand how the person stands in relation to the world that surrounds them. Many philosophers have sought explanations for the relation between person and world. They have coined new terms, presented unexpected insights, and generally pushed the bounds of language in their endeavours. Martin Heidegger, one such philosopher, saw human beings as essentially ‘Being-in-the-world’. For Heidegger, we may understand our lives as human beings through our commerce with those things that constitute the world. Heidegger maps this relation between person and world through a range of neologisms and novel insights. His work Being and Time explores how a person relates to the world in systematic detail. Immanuel Kant, another philosopher concerned with this relation, sought to explain how the object stood in relation to the subject. He claimed that there was a reciprocal relationship between subject and object that help define the ontological parameters of each. Both Heidegger and Kant were overtly concerned with this relation between person and world, and how it was structured. Following in this tradition, this work reformulates our understanding of how ‘person’ exists via its relation to ‘world’. We here - as with Heidegger, and as with Kant - employ the use of neologism to help facilitate a new understanding of this relation. Through a bending of language we will be better able to understand this most important of relations.
In this endeavour, this work presents the reader with what may be termed a descriptive framework toward seeing the relation between person and world in a new light. Before we proceed to detail this descriptive framework, a few words on just exactly what descriptive frameworks are is in order.
Jonathan Culler, in speaking of the work of Ferdinand De Saussure, remarks of “the human tendency to organise things into systems by which meaning can be transmitted”.[i] As humans, we are constantly organising information into categories of meaning, helping us to better structure the demands of everyday life. Philosophy, being a human endeavour, attempts the very same thing. It accordingly uses descriptive frameworks to understand the phenomena it seeks to question.
So what is a descriptive framework? The work of Donald Davidson will be able to help us here. Davidson speaks of what he calls ‘conceptual schemes’. Davidson's conceptual schemes describe the structures through which a person comes to comprehend the world. They are schemes, conceptual in nature, that help determine how a person views a situation. Davidson writes of conceptual schemes that:
Philosophers of many persuasions are prone to talk of conceptual schemes. Conceptual schemes, we are told, are ways of organizing experience; they are systems of categories that give form to the data of sensation; they are points of view from which individuals, cultures or periods survey the passing scene…Reality itself is relative to a scheme: what counts as real in one system may not in another.[ii]
A conceptual scheme is that which schematizes our view of a phenomenon. For Davidson it is a way of ‘organising experience’. The data of sensation can be organised by being refracted through the lens of a conceptual scheme.
Essentially, descriptive frameworks operate in the same manner as a conceptual scheme. A conceptual scheme organises perceived reality through the concepts that the person has at their disposal. A descriptive framework operates in the same fashion. It does not apprehend reality directly per se, but helps us to understand that reality through certain formulations and taxonoma that are useful for organising experience.
So while a person uses a conceptual scheme to organise a perception derived from experience, a philosophical work may use a descriptive framework to organise an outlook upon a particular question. And our question is - how does a person relate to the world?
The Person qua Relation
So let us now begin to establish such a descriptive framework. We may do so by describing the person as a relational being. People require that which they are in relation to. We may say that we are never without relation – in some way, we always in relation to something or other. Jean-Paul Sartre writes that "in one sense consciousness in isolation is an abstraction."[iii] The contention presented here is that human consciousness can never be considered in isolation. It is continually in relation, whether it be to other people, or hylic objects. To put it simply, a person is fundamentally relational in nature. P. F. Strawson conjectures that, “it is a necessary condition of one’s ascribing states of consciousness, experience, to oneself, in the way one does, that one should also ascribe, or be prepared to ascribe them, to others who are not one’s self.”[iv] Strawson is describing what it means to be a person, and this description is intrinsically relational in scope. If we are to ascribe to ourselves certain states of consciousness, then we can only do so in relation to other people and other things in the world.
This idea is also articulated by Martin Heidegger. As we saw, for Heidegger, people are characterised by their ‘Being-in-the-world’. Our being - our ontological structure – is fundamentally comprised by our relation to the broader world that surrounds us. Heidegger uses the term ‘Dasein’ to describe the person. We will look at this notion of Dasein in more depth shortly. For now it is enough to see that, for Heidegger, the person (Dasein) is ontologically legitimised through their relational capacities. Being-in-the-world is characterised by our relations to objects, but more important by our relation to other people. In Being & Time Heidegger writes, "So far as Dasein is at all, it has Being-with-one-another as its kind of being."[v] For Heidegger, a person is constituted in a very basic way by its relation to other people. Its very being is defined as ‘Being-with-another’. In our lives we spend considerable time and effort co-ordinating our activities around the needs of others, and our need to be with others. And there is a reason for this. Our very ontological structures are determined by the imperatives of the Other. This relation governs our everyday praxis.
Jean-Paul Sartre also makes this insight. As with Heidegger, Sartre has a novel conceptualisation of the person. He characterises the person roughly as the ‘for-itself’. This is in contrast to the ‘in-itself’ that is simply hylic. A person is characterised as the ‘for-itself’ by Sartre because it is being for-itself-in-another. From Being & Nothingness: "I am...a being-for-itself which is for-itself only through another."[vi]
Something is ‘for-itself’ if it requires itself for its existence. So, according to Sartre, the for-itself (person) requires itself for its own existence. This seems a tautology, but is not. For Sartre the ‘itself’ the person requires is itself-in-the-other. A person requires other people to have existence at all. The ‘Other’ person is the self same self of the first person, but ontologically distant from it through its manifestation in the Other.
In terms of Sartrean existentialism, we may say a person is for-itself in that is part of a greater whole - that of humanity. A whole that requires individual members to be in relation with each other so to accord each the grounds of the possibility of existence. Hence a person is ‘for-itself’ because it is for-itself-in-the-other. And it is only through this relation that the individual person is able to exist.
John MacMurray articulates the same insight by simply saying, “We may say that the Self exists only in dynamic relation with the Other.”[vii] Fundamentally, a person requires that which they are in relation to for their very existence. A human being is a relational animal. Relation conditions human existence.
So we may describe the person as a relational being. This description emphasizes what constitutes the person externally. A person requires that which they are in relation to (externally) for existence. We need also to describe the person internally if we are to present a complete ontological picture. One such way to describe the person is through a mind/body dualism.
The division between mind and body gets its major codified formulation in the work of René Descartes. His work, The Meditations on First Philosophy, is concerned to secure the bedrock from which all epistemic certain can arise. Toward this end, Descartes doubts everything that can be doubted. The only thing which cannot be doubted, according to Descartes, is that when he is doubting he is thinking. Hence the phrase, ‘I think, therefore I am’ [cogito ergo sum].
Descartes’ move relies primarily on the separation of the mind and its thoughts from the rest of ‘perceived’ existence. And one of these perceived existents is the body. The mind is therefore distinct from the body on epistemic grounds. I can know my mind with certainty, but not my body. There are other reasons, however, why they may be considered different. Descartes writes:
The first observation I make at this point is that there is a great difference between the mind and the body, inasmuch as the body is by its very nature always divisible, while the mind is utterly indivisible. For when I considered the mind, or myself as so far as I am merely a thinking thing, I am unable to distinguish any parts of myself; I understand myself to be something single and complete….By contrast, there is no corporeal or extended thing that I can think of in my thought that I cannot easily divide into parts; and this very fact makes me think that it is divisible. This one argument would be enough to show me that the mind is completely different from the body…[viii]
Descartes rests his argument that the mind is different from the body on the fact that one is divisible (the body), and the other is not (the mind). According to Descartes, even the different faculties of the mind, such as perception, understanding and so forth, are not ‘parts’ of the mind. The mind is a unified whole – that is indivisible.
The argument presented here uses Cartesian dualism to establish a new descriptive framework through which to view the person. It seems reasonable to suppose the human being has a mind, has a body, and that these things are different. Not withstanding the long running debate about how such things of different nature can interact, Cartesian dualism does provide a prima facie theoretical basis upon which to establish a theoretical architectonic.
Having now considered mind/body dualism to be a useful descriptive framework through which to view the person, let us take our analysis a step further. Let us use this idea to reframe how we look at the human being.
Two concepts that can be used toward this end - words that embrace mind/body dualism as a useful descriptive framework - are Bio and Noesis.
Bio of course pertains to the body - the body is a biological mechanism. Noesis, on the other hand, pertains to the mind (or ‘mental capacity’ as it is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary.)[ix] So if the person is best characterised as a mind/body complex, then rather than calling it that, we might call it Bionoesis.
There are a number of reasons for this change. Firstly there is a greater stylistic and grammatical exigency that is accorded the person if it is described as Bionoesis. The word used to describe the person contains in its grammatical penumbra the very things that constitute it – mind and body. Of course this move has its greatest value when doing philosophy, and so is a philosophically exegetical word, not one of common usage.
Secondly, the word ‘Bionoesis’ describes a process. A human can best be described as a process, rather than as a state. A person is not a person, full stop. A person is an unfolding process – one that is localised in the individual, but yet one that is contextualised in greater mass of humanity. A person changes, grows develops and is very much ‘different-from-what it-was-before’. This is an unfolding process, not a static one. And as such a person is not a ‘person’. But rather an unfolding process, one that can be described through the categories of Cartesian dualism.
And lastly, and most importantly, the word Bionoesis, while still having a value in talking about particular individuals, can also designate the greater humanity from which the individual is a member. We may easily and succinctly talk of the person as fundamentally ‘in-relation-to’. Given that a person is such only by virtue of being contextualised in the greater whole that is humanity, to speak of the unfolding of Bionoesis is a greater value than just talking of ‘an individual.’ To talk of an individual, and only of an individual, misses what constitutes the individual most fully – that is its situatedness within the rest of humanity. We may fully talk of the human being as being ‘in-relation-to-the-Other’ as considered qua ‘Bionoesis-as-Other’
A similar critique of the person can be found in Heidegger’s work. As we saw, Heidegger characterises the person as Dasein. Michael Inwood writes of Heidegger that, “In BT [Being & Time] he uses (das) Dasein for 1. The being of humans, and 2. The entity or person who has this being.”[x] In short, Dasein equates to the ‘person’.
Defined, Dasein is “to be there, present, available, to exist”.[xi] This very rarefied characterisation is used to lift the analysis of the person away form more anthropomorphic understandings, toward its ‘Being-in-the-world’ and in particular its ‘Being-with’. Dasein is fundamentally ‘in-a-world’ – that is it is closely and irrevocable tied to the world in which it lives. And part of this world is the other people who inhabit it, so (as we saw earlier) Dasein is also ‘Being-with’, that is being with other people.
So what is the difference between Bionoesis and Dasein? Both terms designate a contextualised entity, the human being, and do so in a more abstract fashion. Both are obviously only useful in a theoretical context. However, Bionoesis emphasises the mind/body complex, bringing it to the fore of a philosophical understanding of the human being. The word Dasein is interested more to accentuated the locatedness, or ‘presentness’ of the human being, without necessarily saying what it is made up of.
The term Bionoesis locates the human being in a context, i.e. that of the rest of humanity, as does Dasein. ‘Bionoesis’ leaves more of what is important to be a human being in its definition in contextualising the person, however. It also emphasises that being a human is more of process that a state. If something is ‘there, present, available’, this would imply more of state than a process. The human being becomes, and it does so it the context of other people, in the context of humanity. It does not reside in a state, but unfolds in an act of becoming.
We have seen how people require that which they are in relation to. We might make this claim stronger and say people are materialised in relation to those things that situate them. They become nascent through relation. Or, Bionoesis becomes nascent when in relation to things external to itself. However, the notion of ‘becoming nascent’ requires further explanation. What is it for a person to become nascent?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word nascent as “coming into existence”.[xii] What then does it mean for a person to come into existence? Well, the common conception is that a person comes into existence at birth, and ceases to exist at death. But the argument that a person becomes nascent in relation to that which is external to them seems to be saying something more. It seems to be saying that a person comes into existence all the time - on an ongoing basis.
A person in an art gallery who stands in relation to a work of art, is – according to the argument presented here – coming into existence in relation to this work of art. Again, the person has become nascent through their relation to the work of art.
This same process occurs at every instance of a person’s life. They are always in relation to something or other, and so come into existence at every moment. This seems counter intuitive. We seem to be in existence all the way through our lives, from birth to death, and seem to require no help to keep us in existence.
A number of considerations may help us here. Firstly, we can give an explanation of what ‘becoming nascent’ means other than the fact of being physically born. To this end we might say that to become nascent, to come into existence, is to experience a form of pleasure, happiness, or general well being. When Bionoesis experience such things, then they can be said to become nascent in the sense of their inner being experiencing an invigoration. The phrase, ‘it made me feel alive’ is useful here. We say that something ‘made us feel alive’, when we have loved something – something we have been in relation to. This thing has made us emotionally nascent, as it were. It has brought our emotions into existence.
The notion of nascence also has more substantive resonances. It can also be said, in a manner of speaking, that food makes us nascent. Yes, it does sometimes make us feel alive, but it also brings our physical body into existence. The person then, in relation to food, has become physically nascent.
We may also become noetically nascent. That is, we may come into relation with things that invigorate our minds, that make them come alive. In talking of the effect of architecture on the human soul, John Ruskin makes the point that, “[a]ll architecture proposes an effect on the human mind, not merely a service to the human frame.”[xiii] And this effect is to enliven. Also books, math’s problems, or even a simple conversation with a friend, may be things that bring us into existence noetically – giving sustenance and life to our minds.
The notion of nascency as being presented here is also making a stronger metaphysical claim. It is saying that Bionoesis is literally brought into existence in relation to things external to it, and is being done so all the time.
We can see this with the help of an example. If a person is confined in a sense deprivation chamber for a length of time, then over the course of that time, their psychological, emotional, and physical structures will begin to subside. Deprived of external stimulus in this way, a person will experience visual and auditory hallucinations. They will also lose body weight and suffer dehydration, and given an enough time, they will die of starvation. Emotionally, they will experience greater and greater levels of fear, terror, and depression. All as a result of being cut off from external stimuli. That to which the person was in relation to was removed, and hence the person began to ‘go out of existence’. Without the things that keep a person in existence - that keep them nascent - symptoms such as hallucinations, emaciation, and depression occur. All these symptoms are apparent in a person who is losing their purchase on their existence, both on the level of emotional well-being, and on the level of psychological and physical coherence.
In the Critique of Judgment, Kant writes that “For, of itself alone, the mind is all life (the life principle itself), and hindrance or furtherance has to be sought outside it”.[xiv] People require externality in order to ‘further’ themselves – they need to be in relation to something other to anything at all. They become nascent through relation.
The Entelechy Field
We need now to flesh out exactly how it is that a person may become nascent. We will see in this section that Bionoesis maintains within its ontological horizon a matrix of relata that serves to propel it into existence – it maintains what may be termed an entelechy field.
In De-Anima, Aristotle propounds a conceptual framework[xv] many commentators on the work have called ‘entelechism’. Enetechy, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is “a move from potentiality to actuality”.[xvi] Hugh Lawson-Tancred translates Aristotle's word ‘entelechia’ as used in De Anima as ‘actuality’. The soul, as characterised by entelechia, is actual – or as Lawson-Tancred writes, “the soul is the Form of the living body to the view that it is the first Actuality of the living body, the second Actuality being that in virtue of which the body actually is in the exercise of its function.”[xvii]
This work employs the notion of entelechism to help explain how Bionoesis comes to be nascent. It does so it terms of the functioning of the person, as does Aristotle. But also in terms of its being in relation. It is through being in relation that a person moves from potentiality to actuality. It is therefore through relation that Bionoesis becomes nascent. And in being nascent it does not simply come to an end point at which it is actual. But rather is continual born by being in relation - continually moving from potential to actual.
In order to describe how Bionoesis thus becomes nascent – moving from potentiality to actuality – the notion of an entelechy field will be useful. As we have seen, in becoming nascent Bionoesis must be in relation to things. These things may be houses, cars, trees, and other mundane objects. But they may also be people, music, books, animals, and any thing that takes a person’s interest. All these things are considered to be within a person’s entelechy field in that it is in relation to them a person moves from potentiality to actuality – that is becomes nascent.
We may call these things that enter the Bionoetic’s entelechy field actualisers. They serve to bring Bionoesis into existence – they move Bionoesis from potentiality to actuality. An actualiser might be a work of art, a friend, a lover, a pet, a house – anything that a Bionoesis may find themselves in relation to and that may be constitutive of their entelechy field.
Odilon Redon – A Case Study
We find a good example for the above claims in the life of the 19th century French artist, Odilon Redon. Douglas Druik writes of Redon’s life that, “[b]ecause of his life, Redon placed unusual demands on his art. In making it, he sought to reconstitute himself.”[xviii] Through art, Redon sought to provide the grounds through which he may become nascent – he attempts to reconstitute his entelechy field.
Generally speaking, the artistic Bionoesis, when faced with certain harsh vicissitudes, will withdraw from the group, and then attempt to re-assimilate back into through the aegis of their creative endeavours. This is true very much so of Redon’s life. Through a number of stressful events in early life, Redon found himself unable to cope. So he retreated into a world of artistic endeavour. Through doing so he was providing the means towards his becoming nascent in relation to art and artists – he was ‘constituting’ his entelechy field. He lacked the capacity to make himself nascent in life without art, so he turned to art to bring himself back into existence, as it were.
As Sartre writes in Being & Nothingness, "the relation of the for-itself to the in-itself is a fundamental ontological relation."[xix] For Redon, his relation to his works of art was indeed fundamental. When the external world ceased to provide him with the ‘means toward nascence’, he closed himself in a new world - a world of art. He writes in a journal entry:
As for me, I work, but the sun has disappeared and I have shut myself up. Definitely [the sun] is our great hearth. It abandons me during the winter to an inner world and an introspection that lead me to drawings and etching that I will probably take up a bit.[xx]
When the world, in this instance the sun, has ‘abandoned him’, he retreats to drawing and etching. When one actualiser in his entelechy field has been withdrawn, Redon seeks a new actualiser to keep himself nascent, in this case art.
Heidegger, characterising the relation between a person and the world in Being & Time, writes, "Dasein can proximally and for the most part understand itself in terms of the world."[xxi] Redon can only understand himself in terms of his world – in relation to this world - and once his normal world recedes, he takes up art and drawing, creating for himself a new world - a grounds toward nascence.
We can see that when the world is ‘immanent’ for Redon, and not ‘withdrawn’, that it provides a great grounds for his nascence. He writes in a journal entry, “Out of doors, the same delights. An overcast days, I savoured my dream. The grey sky filled with great, dark clouds; the sturdy trees with large branches disturbed by stiff breeze especially charmed me.”[xxii] His sense of charm in nature is very intense. Again from another journal entry, “There are sites…so much in Harmony with certain sections of the heart that nature seems to form part of the soul.”[xxiii]
Sartre writes, "The man is defined by his relation to the world."[xxiv] Redon is indeed defined in relation to the world – a world that includes art and nature. This world provides the ground through which Redon becomes nascent. We will look at the artist - and their means towards nascence - again in chapter 4.
We have seen in this chapter that the person is fundamentally relational in nature – people require that which they are in relation to. We have seen that a good way to re-describe the person is as Bionoesis. Bionoesis becomes nascent in relation to that which surrounds it. Each Bionoesis maintains an entelechy field that is constituted by actualisers that contextualises its relational existence.
CHAPTER 2 – RELATION AS A CONTRAST
In order to successfully argue that a person becomes nascent through relation, a thorough analysis of the notion of relation is required. We will see, that when speaking of the relation between a person and the world, the notion of relation is better seen as a contrast, and viewing it in this way will aid us in seeing such relation as a grounds for nascence to occur.
We here see that the notion of relation is an empty concept - empty of ontological essence. As such, a re-description of the notion of relation is necessitated. A better way to describe a relation – a way in which it is seen as empty – is to redescribe it as contrast. Relation becomes contrast by being empty. This will also help us to see the possibility of Bionoesis becoming nascent in relation to (or through contrast with) objects of externality.
Antonio Rosmini, writing in the 20th century, claims that as philosophy moves away from the understanding of the essences of things, it becomes more and more decadent, finally to only concern itself with empty phenomena:
Often Philosophy departs from its first argument and finally, through natural limitation and weariness, forgets its original aim. Forgetfulness of this kind means decadence in philosophy, which first abandons the essence of things for which it searched so avidly and generously in the beginning, and then devotes its entire attention to what things do and produce. But the results, separated from their first, substantial cause, are nothing more than empty phenomena and inexplicable appearances.[xxv]
We may take Rosmini’s words with a grain of salt and say that, yes, the history of philosophy is a move from the study of essence to ‘empty phenomena’, but it is not a sign of its increasing decadence. Many phenomenon are, by nature, empty. For our current inquiry, it is natural that philosophy should move toward understanding the notion of relation as an empty concept, free of an ontologically inherent nature.
The concept of relation was viewed by some thinkers in the history of philosophy as a concept that accorded concrete essences to things. If two things related, then those two things were things in their own right, or ‘things-in-themselves’. They were things in relation, but not so necessarily; things of themselves and in-themselves. The relation between them, taken as something separate, was also considered a thing with its own inherent existence.
Others used the concept to describe relations between things that were not simply things in their own right, but were things simply through the necessity of the relation in which they found themselves. The relation itself was not considered an entity with its own inherent characteristics – it was seen as ‘empty.’
After mapping this history and the arguments for and against metaphysical inherence, this chapter re-articulates the idea of a ‘relation between things’, as a ‘relation of contrast’. It will show that the notion of contrast is an excellent descriptive framework through which to view relation as considered an empty concept. The move is made through a scrutiny of F. H. Bradley’s notion of ‘internal relation’.
The History of ‘Relation’
Rudolf Gasche paints an excellent historical picture of the notion of relation in his book, Of Minimal Things. Gasche contends that a fully fledged critique of the notion of relation did not emerge until the 19th century. He details how theorists such as Augustus de Morgan, Charles Sanders Pierce, Gotlob Frege and Ernst Schroder focused on the notion to further the development of their work. He further remarks that, by the 20th century, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North White Head had drawn on this corpus in their own Principia Mathematica.[xxvi]
However, the rudiments of a codified theory of relation were present in Plato. The classicist Constantine Cavarnos maps the notion of relation in Plato and contends that, “Plato distinguishes two major kinds of entities (onto): (a) absolute entities’ (kath’ hauta) and (b) ‘relations (pros alla).”[xxvii] According to Cavarnos, Plato also talks of action and passions as relations and not as merely inherent modes of being. In the Republic, Plato Speaks of ‘Forms’ of relation, and indeed relations between Forms. The latter being of three types; (a) of blending, (b) of exclusion, and (c) of otherness. The last relation mentioned will become important as the chapter develops. Plato speaks of “a relation…[as] a characteristic which has the peculiarity that the thing which has it has it in some sense ‘towards’ (pros) some other distinct thing.”[xxviii] This chapter emphasises the ontological ‘directness’ of Bionoesis away from itself in a given context - a dispersal toward other Bionoesis and objects.
Another Greek to critique the notion of relation was Aristotle. Aristotle also wrote of the ‘relation of otherness’. In his Metaphysics, the notion of sameness is opposed to the relation of otherness. Things are known as other if they are the opposite of being the same-as.[xxix] Also, things are ‘other’ in opposition to being merely similar.
Again in the Metaphysics, Aristotle speaks of those things whose very essence it is to be in relation. Aristotle opposes relation to other kinds of entity, calling the latter intrinsic.[xxx] If an entity is intrinsic, it has a claim toward having an ‘essence’. A relation on the other hand is not intrinsic, according to Aristotle. It does not present an ‘essence’ from which ‘attributes’ might derive. This lack of essence will be crucial to this chapter as it develops.
Moving from Greek to Medieval Scholastic philosophy, Gasche contends that “Scholastic philosophy featured an extraordinary range of strongly diverse theories of relation.”[xxxi] Gasche details how the battle between the ‘realists’ and the ‘conceptualists’ of the fourteenth century saw a burgeoning of interest in theories of relation. The debates were theological in nature, and were concerned to detail the relation of God toward living things. These scholastic philosophers ascribed a certain conceptual substantiality to their analysis. Relations were ‘things’ that were real in themselves and that could be studied independently. Dun Scotus helped move the debate from an emphasis on such ‘thingness’ by saying of a relation that it is was a thing, but one that maintained a ‘tiny being’. It was a thing that can be studied and explained in its own right, but only just.
Thomas Aquinas also saw a relation as thing, but not as a thing on par with other things, but rather as “the weakest or least real”[xxxii] of all the categories of things. In Aquinas’ words, a relation was “so week that it requires for its support an entity that is ‘more perfect’ than itself.”[xxxiii] Relations are real, according to Aquinas, but of such an insubstantial nature that they were only real through the support of entities that were more perfect than themselves. So a person might be real for Aquinas, God might be real, and the relation the relation between them might be real, but the reality of the relation is far ‘weaker’ than that of the person or God.
For the Scholastics then - from Dun Scotus, to Aquinas - we see an increasing ‘emptying’ of the notion of relation. For the Realists it was a thing like any other, maintaining a strong inherent existence. While for Dun Scotus it had a ‘tiny being’, still inherent, but not as strong. There is a move toward explaining relations with less and less ‘reality, or inherent existence’. Aquinas continues this by claiming that a relation has the “weakest” of all reality. What was real has been increasingly ‘emptied’ of its inherent reality.
For Gasche then, the study or relations is then a study of “minimal things”. A relation is such that it maintains the least, or the minimal, degree of reality.
This book takes the analysis of relation one step further and says that a relation has no inherent existence at all – a relation has no essence, no thing-in-itself. It is an ‘empty’ concept. A relation is not a thing; it cannot be described in this way. A better way to describe how one thing relates to another is to say that it contrasts.
But to see the necessity for this shift we must take a look at the logic of relation and see why talk of a relation as an inherently existing thing is not adequate, and indeed why to talk of entities as inherently existing is not adequate.
The Logic of Relation
Traditional logic identifies five different forms of relation; symmetrical, asymmetrical, transitive, intransitive and irreflexive.[xxxiv] A relation is symmetrical if each of two things related can be predicated identically. The relation ‘is as young as’ requires that if x(Paul) is as young as y(Matt), then y(Matt) will be as young as x(Paul). An asymmetrical relation requires that x is not identical in its predication with y. If x(Anna) is shorter than y(Paul) then y(Paul) can not be shorter than x(Anna).
A transitive relation allows a chain of identity in that x can relate to y and also relate to z, where z is also in relation to y. So if x(Steven) is larger than y(Paul), and y(Paul) is larger than z(Mike), then x (Steven) is larger than z (Mike). Intransitive relations do not allow this chain of identity. If x(Henry) is the father of y(Steven), and y(Steven) is the father of z(Paul), x(Henry) cannot be the father of z(Paul). Irreflexive relations apply only to numerically separate objects.
The most helpful form of relation for this work, the one that helps us to understand the relation between entities as a contrast is F. H. Bradley’s notion of ‘internal relation’. In Appearance and Reality, Bradley made the distinction between an internal relation and an external relation.[xxxv] If two things relate, and they do not require each other necessarily to maintain their respective existence - to maintain themselves as what they are in-themselves - then they are considered to be externally related. However, if two things relate, and that relation is necessary to their existence - i.e. the relation constitutes the things themselves – then the relation is an internal relation. The relation is internally necessary to the thing so that it may be that thing. Remove one of the two objects from the relation and neither will be the same object that was apparent when they were in relation. It is the notion of internal relation that most concerns this work.
It is claimed here that every relation is internal. Everything that is in relation requires that which it is in relation to for its very existence. Remove a relata from the matrix of relations that situates an object, and that object will not be the same object. Remove a loved one from the entelechy field of a Bionoesis, and that Bionoesis will be fundamentally changed.
The Problem of the Thing-in-Itself
Immanuel Kant, in the Critique of Pure Reason, makes the distinction between two aspects of the object – appearance (on the one hand) and what he terms the ‘thing-in-itself’ (on the other). According to Kant, the perceptions we obtain through our outer senses give us knowledge of outer objects in appearance only. There is something that lies beyond surface appearances – something inside the object as considered a metaphysical entity – that we can have no knowledge of the ‘thing-in-itself’. The thing-in-itself is the essence to a particular object – that thing which makes it what it is.
We can see that Bradley’s notion of internal relation is problematic for Kant. We may say, in the light of Bradley’s idea of internal relation, that if something is in relation to another thing internally, then it is never in-itself. This is so because Bradley’s notion of internal relation sets up an infinite regress when considering the thing-in-itself. If one thing (x) relates to another (y) internally, then that which is internal to x - that which relates internally to y - in turn relates to a further in-itself within x, and an infinite regress is instantiated.
Or in other words, x relates to y internally. The ‘in-itself’ of x relates to the ‘in-itself’ of y. But if the ‘in-itself’ of x relates to the ‘in-itself’ of y, then the ‘in-itself’ of x’s ‘in-itself’ must relate to the ‘in-itself’ of y’s ‘in-itself’, and so on through an infinite regress. Hence there can be no ‘in-itself’ if relation is internal.
What does this mean for our current inquiry? The notion of the thing-in-itself is strongly akin to that of an essence. Indeed, Martin Jay writes that for Kant, there is a distinction between “knowledge of the world of appearances (phenomena) and of the world of essences or things-in-themselves.”[xxxvi] According to Jay, the terms ‘appearance’ and ‘phenomena’ are interchangeable in Kant, as are the terms ‘essences’ and ‘things-in-themselves’ – and that there is a distinction between the two groups. In coming to critique the notion of the thing-in-itself, we may also say that we are critiquing essences. If a thing does not maintain any ‘in-itself’, it does not maintain an essence either.
So we might say then, that when two things are in relation (and are so internally), they are unable to maintain an essence or thing-in-itself – they are ‘empty’. Given that everything in the world must be in relation to something, then nothing maintains an essence or thing-in-itself – everything is empty.
Relation via Contrast – A Descriptive Framework
A new description of relation is required, one without the implications of any ‘thing-in-itself’. Such a descriptive framework is provided by the term contrast.
If two things contrast, then there need not be a thing-in-itself to explain how those two things can be what they are; how they can be ‘in-themselves’ and yet still be in relation. If x relates to y via contrast, then both x and y require each other to remain themselves. And ‘to remain themselves’ is not to maintain an unknowable ‘thing-in-itself’. It is simply a necessity of relation – a dynamic interplay of contrast. X requires y necessarily, as y requires x.
Relations via contrast are internal relations as considered through the work of F. H. Bradley. There is a necessity of relation between x and y that constitutes their respective ontological parameters. As such there can be no ‘thing-in-itself’ or essence to these entities. Contrast then becomes the best way to view relation.
We can make this claim stronger if we consider a further point. When speaking of one thing contrasting with another, we do indeed mean that they are in relation. However, we mean something more also. We mean that something is made salient about both things in being contrasted. Something that wouldn’t have been noticeable without them being in relation.
In studies of colour dynamics, analyses of contrast talk of simultaneous contrast – a change in one colour (colour x) that is situated amongst others (colours y, z, a, b, and c) will cause a change in those other colours. There is a fundamental bond between colours that necessitates that when one colour is changed or removed, the other colours in the matrix of relations that situates a colour will also change. Concerning such simultaneous contrast, The Oxford Companion to Art states:
The position of a colour area in relation to other colour areas in the visual field can cause changes of colour analogues to those which would be produced by changes in the character of light coming from area to the eye. As a general rule the visual mechanism accentuates difference in juxtaposed areas. The effect applies to hue, saturation, and brightness, either concurrently or separately.[xxxvii]
We can extrapolate and say that a colour becomes nascent in relation to the other colours that situated it. This is evident by the fact that there is a change in one when there is a change in others, a change that occurs simply through the necessity of relation that exists between the colour changed (colour x) and the colour affected (colour y) - not through any change in colour y itself, but only as a result of being in relation to colour x. And this change occurs not due to anything essential about each colour being different – there is no in-itself that is changed or removed; just a change in the relational matrix.
This point can be further emphasised by turning to the gestalt school of aesthetics. The school, amongst other things, seeks to understand how juxtaposition works in light and colour. Four insights are employed. Each shows how a colour depends on that which it is in relation to for its own existence:
( i ) Juxtaposed area’s of high and low brightness appear respectively brighter and darker than they would in separation.
( ii ) Apparent saturation varies according to juxtaposed or background areas.
( iii ) Juxtaposed areas of adjacent hues appear to be more different than if seen separately.
( iv ) Juxtaposed objects of complimentary hues appear more saturated than they would if seen in separation.[xxxviii]
In order to further the descriptive framework presented here, we may say that a colour is fundamentally tied to that which surrounds it. A colour is situated, and as such is in relation to its context. Through contrast, it becomes nascent.
A fine example of the power of juxtaposition to make colour nascent is seen in the art of lithography. The contrast between black and white in these works is striking, giving the work a powerful effect. Various forms in these works are made salient, or become nascent, by being juxtaposed to black (if they are white), or white (if they are black).
The Oxford Companion to Art mentions the mode in which a colour may come to be more intense via being situated in a context of colours. The Companion stipulates that, “[Intensity] refers to the insistence of prominence which a patch of colour acquires in a particular context owing to enhancement by simultaneous contrast with neighbouring colours”[xxxix] In the case of the contrast between black and white we might say that black becomes intense when in contrast to white, and vice versa.
To exploit this nuance of meaning, we might say - for the sake of a new philosophically descriptive framework - that two things relate via contrast. And it is a radical contrast. Not just one that makes something salient about the objects that are in relation, but that actually constitutes what they are ontically. It’s through a relation of contrast that an entity becomes nascent, rather than merely salient.
The relation apparent between things that contrast do so internally, as considered in the light of Bradley’s work on internal relations. There is a necessity of relation for those things that are in relation to each other through contrast. As such, there is no essence or ‘thing-in-itself’ apparent between things that contrast. The notion of contrast is then the best term to use to describe relations between things in the world.
The Nascency of Contrast
We need to now explain how something becomes nascent when relating through contrast. With contrast, the mechanism that explains how a thing can ‘be what it is’ is not a thing-in-itself, but rather a differential – that is a differentia between two things, or a ‘differentia-between’.
X relates to y via contrast. Through this contrast x is able to be x and y is able to be y. How so? The contrast between x and y instantiates a differential. For example, one colour in the spectrum is a deeper red than the one next to it. This differential in hues of colour, between the darker and the lighter shades of read, actually causes both colours to become nascent. It is not anything about the colours in themselves, but simply the necessity of being in relation - relation through contrast - and the differential that such a relation inaugurates, that makes them what they are.
This descriptive framework is here entitled the nascency of contrast. As we have seen, The Oxford English Dictionary defines nascency as a ‘coming into existence’.[xl] Dark red ‘comes into existence’, or becomes nascent, in contrast to light red, and vice versa.
But a question lingers. Surely there has to be something about dark red and about light red that means that a differential can be established between them – some essence. Again the answer is one given in terms of a descriptive framework, and not metaphysical truth per se.
We might say that dark red and light red maintain a ‘contrastive magnitude’. This contrastive magnitude is not akin to a metaphysical thing-in-itself in the sense that it is something about dark red inherently. It is rather a descriptive framework through which to explain the phenomenon of dark red when in relation to light red.
Dark red maintains a certain contrastive magnitude, as does light red. It is the differential between the contrastive magnitude of dark red and that of light red that allows both to be what they are. In other words, it is a differential, a differential between magnitudes, (magnitudes that are nothing except descriptive of differential points) that provides the mechanism through which an object comes to be what it is.
But surely, one might ask, does not dark red still have something about it that is akin to a thing-in-itself, i.e. a contrastive magnitude? - something that it has and that no other entity has? The answer is no. The contrastive magnitude of a thing, in this instance dark red, is determined not by the parameters of its own essential thing-ness. But rather an ontological proximity between things that merge from an interplay - one between the similarity and the difference apparent between x and y. This analysis, of similarity and difference, is presented in the next chapter. Suffice it here to say that a thing maintains similarities with objects, and also differences, and that these similarity and differences determine how ontologically proximal a thing is to another thing. This proximity grounds an object’s contrastive magnitude – grounding it within a broader context.
Relation as a ‘Dispersal-toward-the-Other’
Our analysis of the history of the notion ‘relation’ and its re-articulation as contrast has shown us that the notion is best utilised without the need of a ‘thing-in-itself’. Both the entities that relate through contrast, and the relation itself, are best seen as insubstantial. That is, they are related through necessity, and as such are not ‘in-themselves’ – they are a contrast.
To use the nomenclature of contemporary theory, we may say that as a result of this lack of essence, entities (including Bionoesis) are dispersed toward the ‘Other’, an Other that instantiates their own ontological status through the very relation that makes them proximal and so in a relation of Otherness.
This necessity of relation is always contextualised, and as such, the necessity of relation is always multiple. Their will always be more than one if entities are to exist. There is a difference required within any given context for a particular entity to exist. Spatially, this difference is numerical. There is always more that one thing in the world. Context implies multiplicity.
And given there is multiplicity, there will always be relation. If these relations are described as a contrast, and are necessary, then the need for a Kantian ‘thing-in-itself’ is absent. There is an ontological dispersal, from an entity to another, a dispersal that is grounded in a necessary relation and described as contrast.
Bionoesis, then, in being in relation to the world, contrasts with it. It is through this contrast that it becomes nascent. It contains no essence, as the things in the world (objects of externality) also do not display an essence. Bionoesis comes into existence through the nascency of contrast. Objects enter into the entelechy field of the Bionoesis, propelling it toward existence.
CHAPTER 3 - SIMILARITY AND DIFFERENCE:
THE GROUND OF RELATION
Having now seen that relation is better understood as contrast, and that such contrast is the basis for the nascency of Bionoesis, let us look at the grounds of this contrastive nascency itself. The phenomenon that grounds the nascency of contrast that propels Bionoesis into existence is heterogeneous homogeneity – or difference within similarity.
Analytics involving the concepts of similarity and difference have been common through the history of philosophy. Some philosophers accentuate either one or the other. Ludwig Wittgenstein, in articulating his notion of conceptual family resemblance, emphasis’s similarity. For Wittgenstein, the things to which a particular word refers form “a complicated network of similarities overlapping and criss-crossing: sometimes overall similarities, sometimes similarities of detail.”[xli] His notion is designed to highlight the similarities that are apparent between those things that are referred to by the same word. And in doing this, he provides a platform from which to describe how a word comes to have its particular meaning.
Others accentuate difference. One important theorist to have done so is Jacques Derrida. His concept of différance is also used to describe the operations of words. For Derrida, a signifier (word) differs its meaning throughout a chain of signifiers (a totality of language). This differing of meaning relies on the difference apparent between the various words of a language. Derrida describes the word différance as a sheaf, and does so because it:
[S]eems to mark more appropriately that the assemblage to be proposed has the complex structure of a weaving, an interlacing which permits the different threads and different lines of meaning…to go off again in different directions, just as it is always ready to tie itself up with others.[xlii]
Derrida concentrates on making salient the differences between phonemes in a system of language in attempting to explain meaning content. Differences determine the structure of the linguistic enterprise. For Wittgenstein, on the other hand, the similarities are emphasised.
There have been philosophers willing to put both concepts to use in their work – and to do so at the same time. Aristotle employs the use of the terms identity and difference in his work the Metaphysics. More recently, Michel Foucault in his book The Order of Things details an epistemic taxonomy that employs the notions of similarity and difference to ground definitional criteria. And another French Theorist of the 20th century, Giles Deleuze, employs similar concepts in his book Difference and Repetition. Let us look at these three in turn.
Aristotle – The Metaphysics
In his Metaphysics, Aristotle defines similarity and difference in the following way. He defines sameness as “clearly a kind of unity of being.”[xliii] The being of an entity, if it maintains a unity within the penumbra of its ontological scope, is said to exhibit ‘sameness’. This definition takes into account sameness as “either of two or more things or of one thing considered as more than one.”[xliv] We will see that this distinction of (1) the same between two or more things; and (2) the same between one thing that has an inherent multiplicity - has importance for understanding the relation between the person and the world. We need to be able to describe similarities between objects that are external to each other, as well as similarities between things that are internal within an entity. We will come to this shortly.
Aristotle goes onto to distinguish between three types of things that are called ‘like’:
(1) if in all or most respects they have the same attributes; (2) if their quality is one; (3)if they agree in the majority or the more important of those attributes in respect of which things undergo change (i.e. contraries).[xlv]
For Aristotle, things may be considered alike if they possess the same characteristics. We can see, that when two things are in relation, that it may be useful to describe the characteristics that are homogeneous with each other. This ‘relation of like’ is important when considering how Bionoesis becomes nascent in relation to objects of externality.
Aristotle also defines four types of difference:
‘Different’ is applied (1) to things which, though in a sense the same, are ‘other’ not only numerically but in species or genus or by analogy; (2) to things which belong to distinct genera; (3) to contraries; and (4) to those things which have ‘otherness’ in their essence.[xlvi]
Differences between entities in the world – in particular Bionoesis and objects of externality – are important in understanding how they become nascent. Such differences include objects that may be similar to, but still maintain distinct differences with, other objects external to them, as described in Aristotle’s definition (1). We see in this definition an interweaving of differences amongst entities that also display similarities. This becomes important as the chapter develops. Entities display differences, but also similarities, and such similarity-in-difference is crucial in describing how Bionoesis becomes nascent.
A related concept, that of ‘Other’ is defined by Aristotle as denoting “plurality in kind, or matter, or in definition and is therefore used with meanings opposite to that of ‘same’.”[xlvii] We can see how Bionoesis, in relation certain objects of externality, can be in a relation of radical otherness – with things comprised of raw hylic material. In these instances, the nascency of contrast is less effective. The reasons for this will become clearer as we progress in our analysis.
Aristotle, in writing of ‘same’ and ‘different’, may be interpreted as establishing contraries. They are indeed contraries, in the normal sense, but this chapter will show that they are contraries that are not simply antithetical. They are contraries that are seen to engage in a dynamic interplay when the relation between the person and the world is analysed.
Foucault and Taxonomia
Michel Foucault was another philosopher to employ the notions of similarity and difference in his analysis. For Foucault, an analysis of similarity (or identity) and difference has importance for epistemology. In his book The Order of Things, Foucault is concerned to historisize the progress of the human sciences, and in doing so understand how their epistemic imperatives are structured. To do this he places epistemic verity for these sciences firmly at the feet of symbolic orders of language. And these orders are governed by the interplay of similarity and difference. He writes:
[T]he ordering of things by means of signs constitutes all empirical forms of knowledge as knowledge based upon identity and difference. The simultaneously endless and closed, full and tautological world of resemblances now finds itself dissociated and, as it were, split down the middle: on the one side, we shall find the signs that have become tools of analysis, marks of identity and difference, principles whereby things can be reduced to order, keys for taxonomy…[xlviii]
Issues concerning classification, or ‘keys for taxonomy’, are especially important to Foucault’s work in The Order of Things. Foucault claims that the historical approach to the development of scientific taxonomies is grounded in similarity and differences between observed phenomena. ‘Taxonomia’, he says, are symbolic - and in being so are representational arrangements of identity and difference: “The project of a general science of order; a theory of signs analysing representation; the arrangements of identities and differences into ordered tables.”[xlix]
The issue of taxonomical structure and classificatory criteria will be important for our discussion of the similarities and differences between a person and the object. If we are to say that there exists certain structures of similarity and difference between Bionoesis and objects in the world, then we had better have certain taxonomies at our disposal, no matter how provisional, so as to validate the claim.
Giles Deleuze – Difference and Repetition
The last theorist to concern us here is Giles Deleuze. His book Difference and Repetition draws heavily upon the notions of similarity and difference, as seems obvious. I will take Deleuze’s use of the concept of repetition to be akin more or less to that of similarity. If a thing repeats itself, or if another thing repeats what a former has done, then we may say that there is a similarity in their activity, i.e. one act is similar to another in that it is repeated. Obviously it is a different act, but in its repetition it is similar to the original act. Hence Deleuze sets up an analysis in terms of similarity and difference.
Deleuze writes, “Repetition…appears as difference”,[l] and again, “Difference is included in repetition”[li] Both these excerpts are included in a broader critique of the conceptual and symbolic in the operation of repetition. We may however simply take the central tenet of these statements as presented here – repetition and difference are closely linked in their operations. Or rather, for the purposes of this analysis, we may say that similarity and difference are intimate companions.
This seems obvious to on a conceptual level. Similarity requires that there is difference to indeed be similarity at all. If things were all similar, then there would be no similarity. The same can be said for difference. If everything were different, then there would be no difference. Some things have to be similar to each other for difference to arise at all.
The main point to note from these three thinkers is that similarity and difference are closely linked. Now, in our endeavours to provide a new descriptive framework through which to view how Bionoesis and the world relate, we may say that they relate through a certain similarity and difference.
A person is similar to other people in the world; similar bodies, similar emotions, similar thoughts and similar interests. They are also similar, though less so, to animals; similar organic structures and instinctual drives. And similar to things such as plants, though obviously of a much reduced degree; similar stimulus and response and similar needs to consume nutrients.
However, a person is also very different from the world. They are different from other people in it; different from animals, and even more different from plants; different in size and in shape; and different in body and in mind.
So we have a relation – one between Bionoesis and things in the world. It seems that this relation is grounded to some degree in the similarities between one thing and another, but also in the differences between them. So we may say that the relation between Bionoesis and the world is grounded to some extent through similarity and difference.
However, the terms similarity and difference are not quite adequate for the task at hand. There are two concepts that more fully describe the relation in question. They are heterogeneity and homogeneity.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term ‘heterogeneous’ in the following way: “1 a. Of one body in respect of another, or of various bodies in respect of each other: diverse in kind or nature”, and, “2. Of a body in respect of its elements: composed of diverse elements or constituents; consisting of parts of different kinds.”[lii]
And the term ‘homogeneous’ is defined in the following manner: “1 a. Of one thing in respect of another, or of various things in respect of another, or of various things in respect of each other: Of the same kind, nature, or character”, and, “2 a. Of a thing in respect of its constitution: consisting of parts or elements all of the same kind.”[liii]
We can take advantage of the bifurcation apparent within the Oxford definitions of both these terms. Each term maintains two distinct meanings. One is to make salient relationships between things which are external to each other. For heterogeneity, its definition speaks of ‘one body with respect to another’. Things which are distinct and external to each other are related and found to be different.
The other is to make salient things that are in relation internally. Again for heterogeneity, the second definitional criteria states, ‘Of a body in respect to its elements’. Given a particular entity, if its constituent components are different, if the things that make up that entity and that are internal to it are different, then they are heterogeneous. This is an internal difference. The very same bifurcation is apparent in the definition of the term homogeneous.
To apply this to our current investigation, we may say a person is different from the world, a world that is external to it. It is also different internally, that is contains different aspects within itself. For a person these different aspects are things such as emotions, thoughts, and sensations.
However, Bionoesis is also similar to things in the external world. Other Bionoesis are the best example, but as we have already seen, the person is also similar to animals, and even to plants in very limited respects. And there are similar internal states within Bionoesis - similar emotions, for example. The emotions of love and hatred, while being polar opposites, when experienced at certain times, can be very similar.
We may now say that the relation between the person and the world is governed by a certain heterogeneous homogeneity. There are similarities between Bionoesis and the world, as well as marked differences. Also, within the scope of this relationship, there are similarities and differences apparent within Bionoesis, and within aspects of the world.
In explaining how heterogeneous homogeneity establishes to the nascency of contrast that characterises the relation between Bionoesis of objects of externality, we need an additional theoretical ingredient. Toward this end, the descriptive framework presented here employs the term ‘taxonomic proximity’. Something is taxonomically proximal to another thing if there is an equilibrium of heterogeneous homogeneity between the two things. That is, if there is a certain level of equality between the similarities and the differences with respect to the two things that are in relation, they are said to be taxonomically proximal.
This term is required to ground the relation between the two things considered. Two things relate, say colour a and colour b. One becomes nascent in relation to the other. It is not simply through the relation alone that a comes to be what it is. A must be taxonomically proximal to b to become nascent. It is the degree to which a and b share similarities and differences that makes a what it is and b what it is. If there is more difference than similarity, and a marked degree more, then the power to engender nascence will be diminished – and vice versa. If there is too much similarity then the grounds for nascence will be diminished. A and b, in sharing an equilibrium of heterogeneous homogeneity – or close to it – are taxonomically proximal, and able to provide the grounds toward nascence for their respective partner.
We need a concept that explains what happens when the heterogeneous homogeneity apparent between two things, and the subsequent taxonomic proximity, is felicitous enough to engender the nascency of contrast. Such a concept is a sine-differential.
In the study of sound waves, a sound with a perfect (pure) tone is said to be a sine-wave. We can draw from this notion to say that a relation that displays the appropriate heterogeneous homogeneity to engender nascency (a heterogeneous homogeneity that is in fact ideal for the inauguration of such nascency) is exhibiting a sine-differential. It is a differential between contrastive magnitudes that is ideal for the arising of nascency. It occurs when the differential between Bionoesis and the object (and their relation’s respective heterogeneous homogeneity) is in equilibrium.
The sine-differential is exemplified in poignant moments of enjoyment that arise in Bionoesis when it is in relation to (or contrast with) an object or other Bionoesis. A person walks along the street with a friend and experiences a contented state. That person and the friend are described as maintaining a sine-differential. A person meets a prospective partner, and there is an emotional connection – again a sine-differential occurs. The nascency of contrast operates through such sine-differentials.
So we may say, Bionoesis becomes nascent through that which it is in contrast with. This contrast is grounded in heterogeneous homogeneity. Heterogeneous homogeneity, and the sine-differentials that it establishes, may therefore be said to be the grounds of the possibility of the nascence of Bionoesis.
CHAPTER 4 – RELATIONAL CONTEXTS
The World as a Relational Context
We have now seen that the relation between a person and the world is best described as a contrast. We have also seen that a good way to describe personhood, for philosophical purposes, is talk of Bionoesis. Our analysis also concerns a third concept – that of the world. To understand what we talk of when we talk of the world will aid us to understand what Bionoesis relates to, and indeed how it does so.
To begin with let us ask, what is the world? One simple answer is to say, ‘the world is a context’. It is a medium through which an entity is contextualised. Every entity that we encounter, without exception, is localised in the world. The world is therefore a totality of entities encounterable by people, and as such is a context.
For Heidegger, as we have seen, Dasein is always Being-in-a-world. That is, it is fundamentally situated in a world. This fact gives Dasein its very ontological status, that of being Dasein. Being-in-the-world is the context in which Dasein can be Dasein. It is either being-with, that is being with other Dasein, or being-in, that is proximal to objects that are in the world.
The world then is a relational whole, a whole in which Bionoesis finds itself contextualised. Bionoesis exists in the world, and is in relation to objects within it. We need now to develop a way of speaking of the world in light of the work done in chapter 2. If the relationship between the person and the world is one of contrast rather than of mere relation, how can this context be spoken of?
As we just saw, the world may be seen as a matrix of relation. We might say, after the work done in chapter 2 on the notions of relation and contrast, that world can be redescribed as matrix of contrast. Given the world is a context, and that context is a relational one, we may say that it is a context that is best described as one of components that relate through contrast. Hence it is a matrix of entities that relate via contrast – a matrix of contrast.
What is the point of saying this? Well we want to understand the person in the context of a relation to the world. Along these lines we can say that Bionoesis is in relation to the world. He or she is one of the things that is inclusive within this world. Bionoesis is then inclusive within a relational totality of context – a totality in which there are other people and physical / organic objects. We may see Bionoesis then as what may be termed a juncture within this context. In fact, not just Bionoesis, but everything in the matrix of contrast that is the world is a juncture within it – a contrastive juncture.
What then is the difference between an object and Bionoesis? The answer lies in the notion of taxonomic proximity. Bionoesis are taxonomically more proximal to other Bionoesis (as they are fellow human beings) than to objects, which are simply hylic things. Other Bionoesis are taxonomically more proximal due to the relation of heterogeneous homogeneity. There are similarities, strong similarities, between Bionoesis – in biology and behaviours. There are also differences – different predilections, appearances and the like. However the differences between Bionoesis and the object are obvious and hardly need detailing.
So Bionoesis is a contrastive juncture within the matrix of contrast that is the totality of the world. The world qua contrastive matrix is the context through which Bionoesis may become nascent. The nascency of contrast requires the contrastive matrix of the world to operate through.
Artists and the Creation of Contexts - A Case Study
An example may help to establish these claims – the artist. Given the truth of the claim that Bionoesis becomes nascent through relational contrast, and that contexts vis a vis contrastive matrixes provide the relational grounds through which this nascence becomes possible, we might then see why an artist might be interested in producing art. Through the production of their art, the artist is creating a context, or situating themselves in a context, through which they may become nascent.
An artist produces a folio of work. Through relation with this folio of work the artist establishes an entelechy field through which to become nascent. Certain works in the portfolio are exhibited in galleries, where the artist must attend openings, mixing with admirers and critics. In the course of their career, the artist meets fellow artists, and develops a network of acquaintances. The works the artist produces adorns the walls of not only their own home; but the walls of the homes of friends and collectors. Through this contextual construction, an artist provides the grounds through to make themselves nascent. Through the people they meet when promoting and selling their art, to the galleries that they are in consultation with, to the psychical hanging of works of art in people’s homes, the artist brings themselves into existence.
In terms of the particulars of the theory presented in the current work, we might say that the Bionoesis qua artist establishes a contextualising entelechy field with the broader contrastive matrix of the world. The entelechy field contains works of art, other Bionoesis, and places that help the Bionoesis become nascent. Each of these things establishes a sine-differential between itself and the artistic Bionoesis, a differential that – through the nascency of contrast – brings the artist into existence.
In Being & Time, Heidegger writes "Proximally and for the most part Dasein is formulated within its world."[liv] Given the truth of this claim, we may say artists - as provisionally considered Dasein - formulate themselves in terms of their world. Now their world is constituted by art, artists, and people associated with art. An artist is therefore formulated within this world.
In terms of the theory presented here, we may say that an artist becomes nascent in relation to this world. And the reason the artist is an artist, is that they possess the capacity to create this world – that is produce works of art that will surround them and that will give them a greater chance of meeting the types of people they are in the habit of meeting - people to relate with and who are fellow producers of art. The heterogeneous homogeneity exhibited between these people and the artistic Bionoesis establishes sine-differentials that propel it into existence. The artist creates the relational context in which they may become nascent.
We have some anecdotal evidence for these claims. David E. Cooper writes of Oscar Wilde that, “For Wilde....art is ‘a way of world making’ and not a mirror of something already in place”[lv] Wilde sets out to fashion a world for himself - one that contains objects of art, in this case literature – and people to admire his neat aphorisms. He is attempting to create the context through which he may become nascent. He is attempting to establish a new and more felicitous entelechy field through which the nascency of contrast may operate to bring him into existence- he is creating a world, or a contrastive matrix, in which he may become nascent.
We may also reflect upon the words of the psychiatrist Oska Pfister. In speaking of the aetiology of artistic creations such those produced by expressionist artists, Pfister says of such artists: “Repelled from the external world by bitter experience, the cognitive subject hides itself away in its own inner world, and magnifies itself into a world creator.”[lvi] Such artists, through various traumatic life experiences, retreat from the external world and set out to create their own. We might say that with such artists, their entelechy field has become ruptured, and that they are attempting to reconstitute it through their art. They are attempting, under their own volition, to construct a world in which they may find the means toward existence.
The world then is a relational context – a contrastive matrix – that situates Bionoesis and makes it nascent. The artist takes advantage of this, creating contexts through which they may be brought into existence. Bionoesis may be considered a contrastive juncture in the broader contrastive matrix that is the world.
CHAPTER 5 - FINALE
This work has established a new descriptive framework through which to view the human being and its relation to the world. The person has been re-described as Bionoesis, highlighting its being constituted by a mind/body dichotomy. Bionoesis becomes nascent in relation to things in the world. Such objects of consciousness can, if conditions are right, establish sine-differentials with Bionoesis, engendering pleasure. These objects in the world constitute the entelechy field of Bionoesis – they provide the grounds through which Bionoesis becomes nascent. We have also seen how it is more felicitous to describe the relation between Bionoesis and world as a contrast – due to the emptying of the concept. We are then at liberty to talk of the nascency of contrast that propels Bionoesis into existence. Such a nascency of contrast operates via a contrastive magnitude being established between the subject and the object. The relation is also very much grounded in the heterogeneous homogeneity that is apparent between the Bionoesis and actualisers that inhabit its entelechy field. Finally, we saw how we may re-describe the world as a relational context – or to adhere to the nomenclature established in this work – as a contrastive matrix, in which Bionoesis has the relational imperatives required to become nascent.
Actualiser – Each person is situated in a surrounding context that ensures the continued grounds for their arising into being. This context is constituted by its mundane surrounds (proximal objects in the world), as well as things of interest (art, people, nature etc). Each of these entities is an ‘actualiser’ in that they provide the grounds for that person to continually move from potentiality to actuality.
Bionoesis – Cartesian dualism is a helpful framework from which to view the human being. People have minds, and they have bodies, and there is a difference between them. This work describes the human being as ‘Bionoesis’ – ‘bio’ meaning biological, and ‘noesis’ meaning mind.
Contrastive Juncture – The point at which an entity arises into being is a contrastive juncture. It is a juncture where the broader contrastive matrix has established the correct differential within itself for the arising of an entity. This differential is affected through the contrast of other entities within the contrastive matrix.
Contrastive Magnitude – Every entity maintains a certain ‘magnitude’. This magnitude is the measure of the size of the influence in the surrounding context that it maintains. This influence will provide the grounds of the possibility of the arising of other entities within that context.
Contrastive Matrix – The world is a contrastive matrix in that it is a matrix of differentials between entities that contrast. Each entity in the world is a point within a matrix (a point contrasting with other points) at which the nascency of contrast occurs through the imperatives of sine-differentials.
Sine-differentials – The contrastive magnitude of an entity establishes a differential between itself and its surrounding context. This differential is the mechanism that facilitates the arising of an entity into the world. The more in equilibrium the differential - the greater the balance within the heterogeneous homogeneity between the entity and its partner - the greater the effectiveness of the contrastive nascency.
Entelechy Field – Each person maintains a surrounding context that provides the grounds for the possibility of its progress from potentiality to actuality. This context is constituted by mundane objects and entities of interest.
Heterogeneous Homogeneity – Entities in the world display differences between each other. They also display similarities. There is therefore a certain ‘similarity-in-difference’ that is evident between things in the world. This work describes this as heterogeneous homogeneity.
The Nascency of Contrast – An entity arises into being through its contrast with other entities. The entity establishes a differential between itself and its context - a differential that provides the grounds of the possibility for its arising into being.
[i] Culler, Jonathan D., Saussure, (Fontana: Great Britain, 1976), p. 9.
[ii] Davidson, Donald, Inquires into Truth and Interpretation, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1984), p. 183.
[iii] Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness, (trans.) Hazel E. Barnes, (Washington Square Press: New York, 1956), p. 239.
[iv] Strawson, P. F., Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics, (Methuen: London, 1959), p. 99.
[v] Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time, (trans.) John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, (Blackwell: Oxford, 1962), p. 163.
[vi] Sartre, p. 321.
[vii] MacMurray, John, Person’s in Relation, (Faber & Faber: London, 1961), p. 17.
[viii] Descartes, Rene, Meditations on First Philosophy, (trans.) John Cottingham, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996), p.59.
[ix] The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2: N-Z, (ed.) Lesley Brown, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1993), p. 1931.
[x] Inwood, Michael, A Heidegger Dictionary, (Blackwell Publishers Ltd.: Oxford, 1999), p. 42.
[xii] The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2: N-Z, (ed.) Lesley Brown, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1993), p. 1885.
[xiii] Quoted from Barnett, Sylvan, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 5th Edition, (Longman: New York, 1997), p. 54.
[xiv] Kant, Immanuel, The Critique of Judgement, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1952), s. 29, p. 131.
[xv] Hugh Lawason-Tancred calls it a “conceptual framework”. See Aristotle, De Anima, (Trans.) Hugh Lawson-Tancred, (Penguin: New York, 1986), p. 15.
[xviii] Druik, Douglas, Odilon Redon, (Thames & Hudson: London, 1994), p. 24.
[xix] Sartre, p. 295.
[xx]Druik, p. 64.
[xxi]Heidegger, p. 186.
[xxii] Druik, p. 27.
[xxiii] Ibid, p.30.
[xxiv] Sartre, p. 345.
[xxv] Rosmini, Antonio, Psychology: Vol. 2, Development of the Human Soul, (trans.) Denis Cleary & Terence Watson, (Rosmini House: Durham, 1999), p. 731.
[xxvi] Gasche, Rudolfe, Of Minimal Things: Studies on the Notion of Relation, (Stanford University Press: Stanford, 1999), p.1.
[xxvii] Cavarnos, Constantine, The Classical Theory of Relations: A Study in the Metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle and Thomism, (Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies: Belmont, 1975), p. 14.
[xxviii] Cavarnos, p. 17.
[xxix] Aristotle, The Metaphysics, (trans.) Hugh Lawson-Tancred, (Penguin: London, 1998), p. 128
[xxx] Cavarnos, p.43.
[xxxi] Gasche, p. 2.
[xxxii] Ibid, p.3.
[xxxiv] The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (ed.) Ted Honderich, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1995), p. 755.
[xxxv] Bradley, F. H., Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay, (S. Sonnenschein: London, 1897).
[xxxvi] Jay, Martin, Marxism and Totality, (University of California Press: California, 1984), p.54.
[xxxvii] The Oxford Companion to Art, (ed.) Harold Osborne, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1970), p. 260.
[xxxviii] Ibid, pp. 260-261.
[xxxix] Ibid, p. 258.
[xl] The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2: N-Z, p. 1885.
[xli] Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Philosophical Investigations, (trans.) G. E. M. Anscombe, (Blackwell: Oxford, 1958), p. 33.
[xlii] Derrida, Jaques, Margins of Philosophy, (Harvest Wheatsheaf: New York, 1982), p. 3.
[xliii] Aristotle, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, (trans.) John Warrington, (J. M. Dent & Sons, LTD: London, 1956), p. 19.
[xlviii] Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences, (Vintage Books: New York, 1970), pp. 57 –58.
[xlix] Ibid, pp. 71-72.
[l] Deleuze, Giles, Difference and Repetition, (trans.) Paul Patton, (Athlone Press: London, 1994), p. 15.
[li] Ibid, p. 17.
[lii] The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Vol. VII, Hat – Intervacuum, (Prepared by) J. A. Simpson & E. S. L. Weiner, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1989), p. 186.
[liii] Ibid, p. 340.
[liv] Heidegger, p.149.
[lv] A Companion to Aesthetics, (ed.) David Cooper, (Blackwell Publishers Ltd.: Oxford, 1992), p. 442.
[lvi] Quoted from Werner, Alfred, Modligani, (Thames and Hudson: London, 1966), p. 11.
Aristotle, De Anima, (Trans.) Hugh Lawson-Tancred, (Penguin: New York, 1986).
Aristotle, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, (trans.) John Warrington, (J. M. Dent & Sons, LTD: London, 1956).
Aristotle, The Metaphysics, (trans.) Hugh Lawson-Tancred, (Penguin: London, 1988).
Barnett, Sylvan, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, 5th Edition, (Longman: New York, 1997).
Bradley, F. H., Appearance and Reality: A Metaphysical Essay, (S. Sonnenschein: London, 1897).
Cavarnos, Constantine, The Classical Theory of Relations: A Study in the Metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle and Thomism, (Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies: Belmont, 1975).
Culler, Jonathan D., Saussure, (Fontana: Great Britain, 1976).
Davidson, Donald, Inquires into Truth and Interpretation, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1984).
Deleuze, Giles, Difference and Repetition, (trans.) Paul Patton, (Athlone Press: London, 1994).
Derrida, Jaques, Margins of Philosophy, (Harvest Wheatsheaf: New York, 1982).
Descartes, Rene, Meditations on First Philosophy, (trans.) John Cottingham, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996).
Druik, Douglas, Odilon Redon, (Thames & Hudson: London, 1994).
Foucault, Michel, The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences, (Vintage Books: New York, 1970).
Gasche, Rudolfe, Of Minimal Things: Studies on the Notion of Relation, (Stanford University Press: Stanford, 1999).
Heidegger, Martin, Being & Time, (trans.) John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson, (Blackwell, Oxford, 1962).
Inwood, Michael, A Heidegger Dictionary, (Blackwell Publishers Ltd.: Oxford, 1999).
Jay, Martin, Marxism and Totality, (University of California Press: California, 1984).
Kant, Immanuel, The Critique of Judgement, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1952).
MacMurray, John, Person’s in Relation, (Faber & Faber: London, 1961).
Rosmini, Antonio, Psychology: Vol. 2, Development of the Human Soul, (trans.) Denis Cleary & Terence Watson, (Rosmini House: Durham, 1999).
Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being & Nothingness, (trans.) Hazel E. Barnes, (Washington Square Press, New York, 1956).
Strawson, P. F., Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics, (Methuen: London, 1959).
The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2: N-Z, (ed.) Lesley Brown, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1993).
The Oxford Companion to Art, (ed.) Harold Osborne, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1970).
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (ed.) Ted Honderich, (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1995).
The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, Vol. VII, Hat – Intervacuum, (Prepared by) J. A. Simpson & E. S. L. Weiner, (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1989).
Werner, Alfred, Modligani, (Thames and Hudson: London, 1966).
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Philosophical Investigations, (trans.) G. E. M. Anscombe, (Blackwell: Oxford, 1958).