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Showing posts from June, 2013

DIY packs substances

In Book H of the Metaphysics, Aristotle considers being as act and as potentiality and claims that one thing turns into the other solely by the concourse of an aitia of the third kind (of a so-called efficient cause). He develops an aspect ontology of substance where being-qua-sunolos is act while being-qua-matter is potentiality. But for each thing there ought to be a bit of matter that is that thing in potentiality - a specific bit of matter that composed this table and would not compose any other table (or any other thing). The material composition of this table is such that it will compose this table and nothing else. It is like a DIY pack, like an ikea item: ideally, the materials in the pack would build exactly the table drawn in the figure associated to it. This is the Aristotelian substance: it has a matter aspect and a form aspect. Around 1044b35 he puts the problem of the wine and the vinegar: is wine the matter of vinegar? He has to say no as wine could cause something oth

A-ism blues

Last week I was lecturing on A-ist realist alternatives. To be sure, A-ism (the thesis that time is made by events and not merely by a succession of states) is plausible but McTaggart threw a curse on it by being convinced that it makes realism about time impossible. What I always found attractive in A-ist realisms is that they tend to consider reality as filled with points of view, with perspectives, with positions. The relative becomes true and this seems like the way forward to consider alternatives to a plot metaphysics where reality is to be contemplated as a view from nowhere. But if we consider the issue of time alone, it is indeed hard, as McTaggart had it, to be both A-ist and realist. To be sure, realist A-isms would probably be the best way to be realist about events (that ought to be past, present and future but cannot be past, present and future at the same time). As far as time is concerned, however, things look bleaker... Consider first standard A-ist realism: presenti

Traces: direct reference, cryptography and Kabbalah

On Friday, moved to a great extent by a growing fever, I started speculating about the nature of the contrast between direct reference and a Frege-Russell approach to denotation (in the rough way Kripke portrays such approach in N&N). Direct reference has that referring is not an act verb (like to build or to dig) but rather a position verb (like to be located, or to find, or to stay). Once I am in a given position, I make reference. I bump into something that refers - to refer is to make use of work that is already done, by whatever there is aided by communal (public) ears. Reference is not like reaching out but rather it is like stumbling upon. To successfully refer (even without noticing) is more like a discovery than an invention. Words are linked to things and no construction effort is required - it is as if there is more to language than what a speaker and a hearer do, know or are educated to believe. I once compared direct reference to written language - and to the grammatol

Note on accelerationism (and the Accelerate manifesto)

I was thrilled to find Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek's Accelerate Manifesto which has been around for about a month. Less thrilled to read it. Not only the discussion is very sketchy (no concrete proposals) but also not to the point. I take that the Accelerationismusstreit is not really about favoring or not technology (or technological advancement) or defending horizontalism or local action. The issue is really about whether a desired post-capitalism is brought about by instituting a device that accelerates the speed of the flows within the socia. The issue is, I take, of whether we should struggle for further deterritorialization or we should rather resist the drive of capital to speed interactions up. It is a many faced issue: the ontological discussion has to do with whether to think in terms of flows or production and registration is to think in terms of a scheme of work and goods, as Benjamim Noys points out, and maybe to break with capitalism requires also a break with th

Aristotle and intensionality

I've been a bit taken by the wonders of Book Zeta while teaching about substance and gignomenon . Substances are generated out of other substances by phusis , or techné or by tautomaton . Tautomaton , to automaton, is of couse very interesting as a word. It relates to spontaneity, to chance and to the automatic. I thought of an ontology of the automaton - related to suneches and symbebekos . There is a dimension of the up for grabs that is automaton: spontaneously generated as opposed to being produced by something else. The automaton is not ruled from the outside, it is ungoverned, it is unchained. The automaton is causa sui in this sense: it is in the open. This, I believe, will grab more of my attention in this blog soon, I believe. The main thrust of Zeta is, I take, his account of how forms are in rebus. A substance can be seen as a combination of matter and form ( sinolos ) and as a form. Well, Plato's account has that forms (or universals) are outside, they are exte

A biographical remark on the up for grabs

Ever since I started concentrating in metaphysics I have been focusing on alternative modalities (or, rather, in movements in the modal hexagon of oppositions involving possibility, impossibility, necessity, possibility that not, the absolute and the nabla). First I wondered whether dispositions could be taken as a modality that cannot be reduced to any other - and what would happen if we think in terms of dispositional connections instead of necessary connections. Then I met the Speculative movement and became slowly more confortable with Humean accounts. I thought that there is more to metaphysics than what would have our vain criticism of necessary connections. Things could be up for grabs - in themselves. When I read some process philosophy (and consequences thereafter including OO ontologies and materialist takes such as Bennett's), I thought there would be a way to make the for-us/in-itself distinction (connected to substantiality, see the previous post) itself not necessary.