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Friday, 2 January 2015

Laws and realontologie

I draw from Latour a slogan about how to conceive ontology from the point of view of politics: look at the realpolitik. It is as we were invited to look at a realontologie, something that goes beyond laws and principles while taking them as part of the landscape.Interestingly, von Rochau, who created the term realpolitik defines it as focused on: "the powers that shape, maintain and alter the state [a]s the basis of all political insight" and that it "leads to the understanding that the law of power governs the world of states just as the law of gravity governs the physical world". Ontology is not about the execution of general principles or the instantiation of laws but rather it is about what is made to generate, discard and circumvent these laws. Latour talks about the practice of the real politicians, how they do their petty negotiations in parliament, in think tanks, in lobbying institution and inside palaces. They knit a network of agreements that range from their personal interests to what they need to achieve for those they represent - which interact in a complex allagmatics as there is no once and for all given representative mandate to anyone. They have to act as a network without ever being sure that they are not going to be stripped off all their allies and left on their own as a minimal agent, isolated from previous strengthening power. The same with actual entities and laws of nature: no natural law persists without entities reinforcing it. There is nothing to be instantiated without its instances. Laws are ceteris paribus because they work only if we assume entities will carry on as they have been - but they are virtual because no repetition brings in no difference. Whitehead has that natural laws are such because they depend on a cosmic epoch. That water is H2O is true in every cosmic epoch where there is water - but natural kinds are themselves dependent on cosmic epochs.

The idea that truth is an agreement between sponsors, such as I maintain in this post
can be understood in line with realontologie. Truth is not self-maintained; it is not like a constitution, it is more like jurisprudence, more like the real dealing with laws that lawyers and other contract-mongers make and break. Natural laws are not themselves true because they are no more than part of a framework where truth takes place. Truth belongs in the realm of all the petty negotiations of all real actual entities. Laws lie - but they help understanding the routes of the many leveks of negotiation that makes something true.

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