Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Madhyamaka kaka and eternal objects

Here's Shaviro's home page. In the "essays and papers" section one can find chapter drafts from his book on Whitehead. This is interesting from chapter 2 on Whitehead's eternal objects:

"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" (18).

See below my previous discussion on how image schemata are in the middle of any classical hierarchy. And from them the embodied universal is built 'up.' Same with the particular, only built 'down.' Again, the khoratic image schemata function as an embodied transcendental condition for the actual, the emptiness of the middle way Madhyamaka kaka.

Here's an interesting description of the classical view of a nested hierarchy from this link. Sound familiar?

"The classical concept is defined 'by necessary and sufficient conditions' -that is, by set theoretic definitions on properties. It is an elementary theorem of logic that the whole of the operations of sentential logic, for instance, may be grounded solely in the primitive operations of intersection and complement. More generally, logical sets and categories are defined on presumed 'atomic properties' and are commensurable wholly based on the set-theoretic possibilities of those sets –i.e. union, intersection, complement, etc....

"This classical categorization therefore expresses an absolute, rigid and nested hierarchy of levels and containment. In Lakoff’s terms it expresses a hierarchical 'container schema.' Ultimately, (because they are nested), at the limits these processes specify (1) a largest concept: 'something,' (defined by no atomic properties), whose extension is 'everything,' and (2) a smallest concept: a particular 'object' in reality, (or possible reality), defined by all its atomic properties. Given the classical paradigm then, reason necessarily begins with 'something,' (the most general concept), and points, inexorably, to some 'thing,' i.e. a specific object."

So we begin in media res, in the middle of things and then "reason" both up and down the classical hierarchy, not realizing that the "base" of that hierarchy is not the real foundation, which is hidden "in the midst." Which reminded me of course, nondualist that I am, of the Madhyamka "middle way" between the categories of absolute and relative. 

Basic categories are embodied in image schemas that arise from our interactions with the world. Recall that one characteristic of these basic categories is the part-whole gestalt, aka hierarchy. Since image schemas and basic categories operate below conscious attention we’ve come to assume that they are inherent to the world themselves and thus project this notion of “natural hierarchy,” with its most developed forms in Aristotelian nested, categorical hierarchies. All of which assumes a basic, particular and inherent “constituent” as foundation at the bottom and/or a general and inherent “being” as foundation at the top. Meanwhile the process actually begins in the middle of the classical taxonomy and we get more specific “downward” and more general “upward” from there on a useful but constructed hierarchy. This doesn’t necessarily eliminate hierarchy per se, just contextualizes it is a more naturalistic, nondual way and only eliminates its dualistic and metaphysical elements, elements which have some form of inclusivism and hegemony at its core. The notion of holons as involutionary givens is one of those metaphysical elements, and as we’ve seen this is much better explained by the part-whole gestalt properties of basic image schemas.

L&J discuss basic-level categories in PF (28-30), saying that it is the level at which we interact optimally with the environment and hence they are quite accurate. So much so that it appears as if our categories are actually representing that world as it is. Hence it is an easy step to metaphysical realism. These image schemas remind me of Dharmakirti's "pure particulars" from the prior "myth of the given" discussion, since they seem to function in much the same way, as the next of kin to reality as such and removed from it by the slimest of margins. However also like Dharmakirti anything beyond the basic-level category loses this almost direct connection.

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