Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eternal objects

Some stuff from the archives I was re-reading. First two quotes about eternal objects from Shapiro's chapter 2 of Without Criteria followed by my commentary.

"Eternal objects thus take on something of the role that universals...Platonic forms and ideas played in older metaphysical systems. But we have already seen that, for Whitehead, 'concrete particular fact' cannot simply 'be built up out of universals'; it is more the other way around. Universals...can and must be abstracted from 'things which are temporal.' But they cannot be conceived by themselves, in the absence of the empirical, temporal entities that they inform. Eternal objects, therefore, are neither a priori logical structures, nor Platonic essences, nor constitutive rational ideas. They are adverbial, rather than substantive; they determine and express how actual entities relate to one another, take one another up, and 'enter into each others’ constitutions'” (18).

"Actual entities continually perish; but the relations between them, or the patterns that they make, tend to recur or endure. Thus it is not 'substance' that endures but 'form.' And even forms do not subsist absolutely, but continually 'suffer changing relations'" (19).

What I see here is differance as a recurrent pattern that repeats or iterates, but itself arises from, and cannot be separated from, temporal actual occasions. And which changes with each of those actual occasions. It is in a sense like Bryant's virtual substance, or an eternal object as described above, which is both a universal aspect within a particular manifestation.

Also see this post on image schemas. These are pre-linguistic, embodied, non-dual 'categories' that do not divide but connect us to the world. These basic categories (differentiations) provide the ground from which later abstract, dualistic thinking develops. And they are neither an a priori particular nor universal, but are in the middle of any nested abstract hierarchy. They function very much like differance, and may in fact be another way of describing a similar (if not identical) universal and embodied 'pattern' born from the very specific and particular instantiations that give rise to it.

At least in reference to human beings. I could though stretch a similar idea by what underlies an image schema in the basic categories that inform any suobject, using Bryant's notion of translation. Image schemas then would just be a more emergent, human development of this basic 'universal' differentiation (differance) inherent to any suobject.

Derrida's seminal essay DiffĂ©rance speaks of it as “this sameness that is not spacing/temporalizing” that is neither active nor passive but “rather indicates the middle voice” (278). It is also an assemblage, a “general system of all these related schemata” (280). Note that schemata is defined as “an underlying organizational pattern or structure,” and with specific reference to Kant as “a concept, similar to a universal but limited to phenomenal knowledge, by which an object of knowledge or an idea of pure reason may be apprehended.” So here we have a patterned universal assemblage that is born of particular spatial-temporal instantiations expressing in the middle voice, much like our image schema(ta). As assemblage it “refer[s] to the whole complex of its meanings at once, for it is immediately and irreducibly multivalent” (283-4), like Bruce's reading of Nancy's singular-plural.

Also of note is how differance is like the virtual in that while it “makes the presentation of being present possible, it never presents itself as such” (281). The present is what is actual or manifest within differential relations between suobjects. And yet differance doesn't enter into these manifest relations, yet is not an essential or metphysical form, still being bound by the space-time of its particular instantiations.

I found this sentence interesting in light of our discussion above on the eternal return and eternal objects: “It is out of this unfolding of the 'same' as differance that the sameness of differance and of repetition is presented in the eternal return” (292). Again I'm reminded of the old expression from the Pennsylvania coal-mining district in which I was raised, same difference.

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