Saturday, November 2, 2013

Morton, Priest and lava lamps

Recall Garfield & Priest said in "Nagarjuna and the limits of thought": "If Nagarjuna is correct in his critique of essence, and if it thus turns out that all things lack fundamental natures, it turns out that they all have the same nature, that is, emptiness, and hence both have and lack that very nature. This is a direct consequence of the purely negative character of the property of emptiness."

So ultimate nature is not 'essence,' so defined by lack of an inherent and/or independent existence. And yet all entities have the 'same' ultimate nature with this negative character. Yet OOO adds something to this with a positive, individual and autonomous 'substance' that allows for a withdrawn core that claims to be not entirely relational, at least to other entities, due to the nature of this withdrawal. Whereas Buddhism is typically depicted as completely relational via co-dependent origination and due to no essences gets associated with no autonomous substances.

Take for example another of Priest's articles, "The structure of emptiness" (SOE). An excerpt:

"A central part of its meaning [emptiness] is [...] there are no substances. Nothing exists in and of itself. Everything that exists does so in as much as, and only in as much as, it relates to other things. It has, so to say, only relational existence" (1).

Recall this post from the OOO thread referencing lava lamp materialism from chapter 3 of Real Magic. One expression of this is the sort of Buddhism Metzinger and related colleagues employ. It seems Priest employs it as well. Will have to read Priest's article more thoroughly to comment further. Especially since Morton uses Priest repeatedly as an exemplar of the sort of paraconsistent logic needed to formulate Morton's withdrawal.

In Morton's Intro he uses autopoeisis to support how an suobject both is and is not, in that a system is operationally closed while structurally open. This makes sense when we take account of the contextual meaning of the words rather than assuming that open and closed are abstract and idealistic terms outside of any context and thus strictly dichotomous.

In chapter 3 he applies Priest (In Contradiction) on motion in that an object cannot be confined to a particular point in time when moving but rather only within a neighborhood of time. This is in distinction with a process-relational view that sees the object at a sequence of space-time points throughout its trajectory. Morton extends this to mean that objects create their on space-time rather than being in a space-time. And they can do so only because they are split, i.e., here and not here at the same time. Or as we explored elsewhere,* they are both present and absent per differance. Again, it depends on what we mean by the terms here and not here, for they are not abstract, metaphysical dichotomies as defined in that link.

Returning to SOE, on 3 Priest clarifies that “self-existence is to exist independently of anything else.” I don't think this opposes Morton's OOO in that a suoject can retain its autonomy or 'substance' while being completely contingent, immanent and without 'essence.' But can the likes of Priest admit autonomous substance?

On 4 Priest argues against substance, equating it with being “independent of the possession of any properties.” Morton doesn't say this, since any suobject indeed has properties, it just isn't completely identified with them.

In the following pages Priest goes into his math-logic, over my head. But his conclusion to this is as follows: “Emptiness is not a nothing: it has a determinate structure, one of pure form” (11). Which seems to me to be the very type of lava lamp materialism Morton rails against.

* Also see Bryant's article "Time of the object."

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