Saturday, December 28, 2013

Materialist nominalism

Recall this post on semantic nominalism. I was just re-reading Bryant's post on a "towards a materialist theory of universals" which is akin to it. It also reminds me of this post on real categories. Some excerpts:

"But what if it ironically turned out that our cognition of universals was, in fact, rendered possible through material objects?  Here the thesis wouldn’t be that we abstract from material objects to form universal concepts, but rather that material objects do the work of abstraction for us. [...] For Clark it is not an already operative concept that allows us to engage in these forms of reasoning, but rather a concrete object that renders these forms of reasoning possible. [...] Now that we’ve erased the particularity of objects through the intervention of another object– either a signifier or the '+' and '=' toys –it becomes possible to think more abstract identities and difference.  As Clark puts it, we can now think relations between relations. [...] Score one for nominalism!

"What we get here, I hope, are the rudiments of a materialist theory of universals and how it is possible to explain, at least, the cognition of universal relations beyond the particulars (individual entities) that populate the world.  The next step would consist in showing how grammatical or syntactical relations can emerge within these nominalistic structures (something already worked out by Lacan in 'The Purloined Letter') that give us invariant relations or structures such as those found in logic and mathematics.  The final step would then consist in showing how these objects that function, through undermining, as standard-bearers for more concrete objects, can function as 'attractors' within material systems, allowing us to understand how a physical or material system can begin generating values, teleological behavior, or self-regulation."

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