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Friday, 11 November 2011

My talk on Anaxagoras and Anaximander

Some people asked me to explain a bit in a short message what is going on in my text (in Portuguese) about Latour's principle of irreduction discussed in terms of Anaximander and Anaxagoras. From a process philosophy point of view - especially from a Souriau perspective according to which whatever exists needs sponsoring - reduction and irreduction are achievements (or so states Latour's principle, Irréductions, 1.1.1). I was then wondering what is there before all those achievements. In a sense, there could neither be an apeiron (Anaximander's take) that compresses everything - the undetermined that could generate the determinate - nor an image of the beginning inspired by Anaxagoras where every thing was present in a distinct form - hair cannot be made out of anything but hair, flesh cannot be made out of anything but flesh (fragment 10). In the Anaxagoras image, the beginning is a time where everything was there and subsequent reductions followed. In the Anaximander image, the beginning is a time where everything is compressed in a single thing and what followed brought about decompression (irreductions). Surely, before the achievements of reduction or irreduction there was no blobject (or apeiron) and no assemblage of everything.

But, I argue, in a sense, there could be both. Maybe there is something common between surexistence, in Souriau - the assemblage of all modes of existence - and some kind of sur-inexistence where things that don't quite exist are placed together: a reduced whole AND a pluralistic assemblage. Eudoro de Sousa's principle of complementarity - that he borrows from Heisenberg's principle - could help here. The principle of irreduction invites us to think at something that is not reduced nor irreduced but it is ready to give rise to reductions and irreductions. Anaxagoras, thought together with Anaximander.

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