Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Without barren tautological absolutes

A main difference between Leibniz's monadology and Whitehead's system that we explored this week in my Leibniz-Whitehead course is that Whitehead's notion of process is presented as an alternative to "the reduction of the universe in a barren tautological absolute, with a dream of life and motion"(Modes of Thought, lecture 6, p. 93). There is always a possibility of invention and this is why we can never predict the future: something entirely other could always intervene. The universe is in construction and all fixity is the product of analogical capacities that make abstractions without being able to envisage their scope. In the following lecture (p. 107), he analysis variables and how they get their reference fixed - a x is any x but it become the same after it is introduced. But then he goes on: "self-identity is never complete in any advance to novelty". No whole and no individual is the same across the advances into novelty. Leibniz, in contrast, makes sure the individual monad is the same by equating what it is with the infinite whole - Adam is Adam because it is the only one to have exactly the same life history. The price to pay for individuation by complete history is to take the universe as a barren tautological absolute. Everything, in every world in the pool from which God chose, is determined and could not go astray. Induction is impossible because it attempts to fit the infinite in the finite - not because it attempts to fit creation in the tautological. Whitehead's is a system where expectations meet the indefinite - and, in a sense, actual entities (monads) act as indefinitesimals.

No comments:

Post a Comment