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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Concepts in the space of problems

Deleuze's ontology of problems, object-disoriented as it is, is an approach to process. Any thing came out of a problem and problems came out of repetitions. Rhythms bring about problems and it is in coping with them that things come about. It seems possible, in fact, to understand prehensions and the extensive continuum in subjective forms - and the overall image Whitehead presents - in terms of an ontology of problems. Also concepts can be understood as problems posed to detection machines (like our senses). We could take Sellars' criticism of the Given as a criticism of solutions that are not brought about by problems. To sense sense contents is not yet to know how to answer to a problem (or to apply reliably a concept) - one needs rather to find out how to use one's detecting devices to make empirical reports. Those reports cannot be made before we are inculcated with concepts - that is, inculcated with problems related to what ought to be salient in our experience. Experience without problems is like intuition without concepts: without concepts (and problems) humanity would not know what to do with the differentials of experience. In that sense, experience is transcendental. It provides us with the differentials when we pose the problems. Experience can be a tribunal but its verdicts are specific, there is no verdict ready somewhere (somebody sees but I don't yet) waiting to be accessed before the question is posed.

Differentials, on the other hand, are everywhere and can be explored by all sorts of problems. One could have problems without concepts and solve them by an appeal to differentials. Ticks have a matrix of differences and indifferences because they have problems. To solve their problem is to envisage a strategy of differentiating, say, mammals and non-mammals and then actualizing such a virtual solution in a way that relate first to a horse, and then to a cow, and then to a dog. The repeated solutions - actualizations - bring about differences and further problems. A form of life (like that of a conceptual life a Bildung inaugurates in us) is stable if its problems are solved by the same differentials that were previously available. Such is the like of a population in a closed niche: no need to further exploit the differentials that are virtually there. No need to experiment. All problems are already prefigured in the matrix of differences and indifferences. (Such could be our life fully immersed in the Lawrence's umbrella of our conceptual inheritance.)

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