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Friday, 15 March 2013

More on necessity as immunity

Being thinking about necessity and immunity and trying to organize ideas around substances, substrata and relations. The idea of necessary connections is part of the idea that something subsist unaffected by whatever else takes place. Something is necessary if it is independent of all the others. It is the thus and so comes what may. The virtual, in contrast, as Deleuze understands it in in Difference et Répétition and up to Le Pli, is something that depends on the whole world to become actual. The necessary is independent from anything else, somehow protected from anything else – it is immune. It is not open to whatever else exists.

Immunity can be understood to have four different kinds:

With respect to things they can be:

1. The immunity of something over its qualities. This is the immunity that makes a substratum capable of keeping its identity in different worlds. A particular is the same no matter the different (universal) qualities attributed to it. A substractum is preserved from the changes in qualities – from modal changes. Gregor Samsa would carry on being the particular it is if it were turned into a roach. This type of immunity is the one Kripke points at when he connects a necessity with the act of naming – the name-giving act directed to a particular.

2. The immunity of something over its changes in time. This is related not to modal change but rather to temporal change. This is the immunity that makes a substance capable of keeping its identity in different times. A substance underlies its changes. Leibniz’s monads contrast with Whitehead’s actual entity in that the former are immune to whatever happens to them over time while the latter are relative to a time. Leibniz’s monads are substances without substractum because what makes them resist to change in time is related to a single world, they are individuated by the infinite qualities that they had, have and will have over time. Substances are postulated to be immune, they subsist comes what may.

With respect to relations they can be:

3. The immunity of relations between things. Here is no longer about a single thing (and its substratum or substance) but rather about relations. This is the immunity that makes a relation indifferent to the possible world in which it is – indifferent to whatever else exists or relates to it. Causal relations are often thought to be like this – if the white ball causes the red one to move, this will happen in all possible worlds, no matter what other relations are also in place. Logical relations are even moe often thought to be independent of the world around them. Relation like that would be immune to whatever else is relating around – the relation stands on its own.

4. The immunity of relations between things over time. If the previous kind was about resilience of the relation in different possible worlds, this one is about its subsistence over time. Immune relations of this kind are not built and not destroyed – they are eternal. They could be dependent on a possible world (like Leibniz’s monads or Lewis’ individuals) but not relative to a time where they were instituted and not affected by other relations in the world where they belong.

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