Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy onticology

More ontocological ruminations from the IPS OOO thread, starting on p. 19:


I'm reviewing Chapter 5 again, and am seeing more clearly here that Bryant is defining 'substance' as an object's endo-relations, which at this point is not at all objectionable to me (and I don't really see how this is significantly different from or contrary to a holonic, autopoietically informed relational view, i.e. an Integral mereology).  To be consistent, in a holonic view, there can be no 'smallest' (foundational, atomic) holon, nor can there be a single 'super-holon' that encompasses all holons.  Both the imagined base-level objects or the ultimate super-object would be non-holons (since the former would not contain any constitutive smaller units, and the latter would not be included within anything else -- e.g., neither would be a part-whole).  Thus, there is no single-entity foundationalism, nor can there be a final 'over-mastering' super-entity (ass-holon, in Theurj's language).  Bryant's -- and OOO's -- emphases on the (relative) system-independence and closure of objects (agency), and on the tendency of objects to 'withdraw' from any totalizing embrace or identification or apprehension, are I think important and useful reminders (not fully recognized or developed in IT to date).  The transcendental deduction of the necessity of objects is also significant for IT, to the extent that it has sometimes leaned more heavily in the direction of an epistemic-first orientation.  But as I said above, I do not think the 'features' of objects identified by OOO are fundamentally at odds (or even very different from) an autopoietically informed holonic model, which presumably is the guiding 'ontic' orientation of Integral Theory.  In SpinbitZ, Joel makes the case that Integral Theory veers towards epistemic absolutism when Wilber sometimes states that ultimately "All is perspective," and argues that Integral should not be ontic-shy about also asserting, as Wilber also sometimes does, that embodiment and boundary are fundamental to perspectives -- e.g., that perspectives are always embodied.  Such a move honors both epistemology (perspective) and ontology (holon) equally and non-reductively.

As I mentioned to Dial in a previous post, regarding the relational vs. object-oriented views, my thought was that autopoietic closure is itself a sufficient difference that makes a difference with regard to the concern that objects not be seen as being solely constituted by their (exo-)relations, and thus I don't see (at this point) why OOO should identify itself oppositionally with relational views (since OOO still defines substance relationally, as the endo-relations of an object).  When substance is defined as endo-relations (as Bryant does in Ch. 5), Bryant's non-relationality of objects is still a form of relatedness.

I expect there may be some objection by OOO folks to the use of the word 'holon' instead of, or over, 'object.'  But since Bryant sometimes defines object as 'unit,' then the 'wholeness' or 'integrity' implicit in the term 'holon' should not be objectionable on its face.  I also think if there is the rejection of any notion of 'wholeness' or integrity altogether, then the 'there is no world' thesis would also eat objects alive: there would be no objects either, no 'units.'

What do you think?  Am I missing something here?


Yes, I've commented a few times upstream on the embodied (i.e., structured) nature of objects. So in the sense that they have a structure, with elements within that structure in relation, they are not completely without relation (in the virtual). The difference seems to be that they are not defined by their exo-relations with other objects, for those actualizations change depending on the context. It's also not that the structure, or the endo-relations, of an object doesn't change; it is not a timeless or changeless 'essence.' And it is also not that an object can exist without being in an environment without some sort of relational exchange, for the elements of its structure are not manufactured from within out of nothingness or even its structure. Even autopoetic objects, which do actively maintain and change its endo-relations, don't create the elements of its structure which must come from an environment. It's just that its structural, virtual 'substance' is always more that its actual manifestations.

And contrary to Bhaskar (in Bonnie's thread) there is no 'one world' environment that unifies it all, no big (ass)whole. See Bryant above on this is several posts, and where he disagrees also with DeLanda and Deleuze. And yet it seems there are whole objects in themselves as structural units, whole in that sense.

Given the occupy movement and the protests, and my own personal situation within it, I was struck by the profundity of this statement from chapter 5.2:

"A subject might very well know that he is getting a raw deal, that the political and social system within which he is enmeshed functions in such a way as to disproportionately benefit the wealthy and powerful, diminishing his wages, quality of life, benefits, and so on. However, such a subject must also eat, especially if he has a family, and must therefore have a job. In order to have a job, such a subject must have a place to live so as to eat, rest and be presentable, must have transportation, very likely requires a phone, etc., etc., etc. As a consequence, such a subject finds himself trapped within a regime of attraction and a form of employment that, while unsavory, is required for his existence. Taking action against such a system might very well amount to cutting off the very branch the person is sitting on to sustain his own existence. In this connection, I suspect that people are far more aware of the manner in which the cards are stacked against them by the broader social system."

In the rest of 5.2 we get an answer to Dial's question, then why the anti-corelationist stance? The correlationist stance, by virtue of its own structure, cannot see the invisible presuppositions that maintain it. One of these is the epistemic fallacy, explored in Bonnie's thread and highlighted by one of Bhaskar's criticisms of integral theory. This plays out in the anthropocentric gaze which objectifies non-human substances, much like women were ( and are still) objectified as sex objects instead of autonomous beings in themselves. In so doing it closes the possibilities inherent in said objects, like social systems, for example, from their own developmental trajectory and thus changing the type of insidious regime of attraction seen in the last quote. Bryant sees this shift of emphasis to the object as making visible those prior invisible regimes so that we can effect the kinds of societal changes necessary to challenge the current regime, much like we are seeing in the Occupy movement. We are in the midst of regime change, and the 'object' doing it is this new social movement led by the 99%, heretofore invisible to the current capitalist regime.

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