Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Overton's Relationism

In this IPS post and following I'm exploring a book chapter by W.F. Overton called "Relationism and Relational Developmental Systems: A Paradigm for Developmental Science in the Post-Cartesian Era." I've included the first few posts below but see the link for the ongoing discussion.

We see many agreements with the above article and this thread. It discusses the worldview shift from Cartesian split to relationism, broadly equivalent to the shift from a metaphysical to postmetaphysical worldview. The former accepts splitting, foundationalism (essentialism) and atomism, all indicative of the metaphysical. Splitting requires pure forms or elements in a strict either/or absolute law of noncontradiction based on a foundational, unchanging reality. It also requires linear causal sequences (38-9).

Relationism heals the split with forms that flow across fuzzy boundaries and relate to each other as indissociable compliments, hence relationism instead of foundationalism. Instead of linear causal sequences there is a holistic mereological relation of parts to wholes. He uses Luhmann as an example, to which I'll return later on his mereology. Of note are the 3 principles in this holism: the identity of opposites, the opposites of identity and the synthesis of wholes. The first is how parts relate to the whole with fuzzy boundaries. The second is how the parts retain their unique identities as distinct categories. The third is on how the other two relate in what I would translate into kennilingus as 1st, 2nd and 3rd person perspectives. Or as he terms it, how the personal, material and socio-cultural balance and interrelate. We see this in Bryant's 3 domains and in the kennilingus 4 quads (41-52).

Of course this worldview shift itself isn't a sudden transformation from one to the other, requiring transitional phases. He hints at this noting the antecedents in the shift to relationism via Kant, Hegel, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, to name a few (30+). We can see such transitional mixes in the likes of kennilingus and the MHC, explained earlier in the thread. I can also see some mixes of each in this author's presentation as well, which I'll get to, as well as a few points he leaves out that are contained in numerous examples in the thread above.

Note Overton's diagram of holistic synthesis on p. 50, figure 2.4. As one example he takes the mind-body duality (or 1st and 3rd person). They are holistically synthesized by introducing the social domain (2nd person), all three being different parts (perspectives) in the relational whole. The same goes for any dichotomous pairing of 2 of those 3, the third providing another perspective from which to create the holisitic relation. This again reminds me of Bryant's diagram just a few posts above, and how "the three orders simultaneously overlap and interpenetrate and are autonomous."

Wilber's AQAL diagram just shows the dichotomy between inner/outer an individual/social, i.e. 1st and 3rd person. He realizes he needs a 2nd person perspective and fits that into the inside of the social, which doesn't work. Consequently he still participates in the dualistic split paradigm and examined at length in various posts and threads.

Edwards handles this by making the perspectives a different lens altogether from the quadrants, as in this diagram where each perspective has 4 quadrants (figure 5 of this post):

Also of note, Edwards also has a diagram (much like Overton's but more complex) showing the relationship of the perspectives (see figure 7 in the same link). A much simpler diagram of the same relationship can be seen here where a 1st and 3rd person are 'synthesized' by the 2nd person artifact. Or seen another way, his social mediating holon is Bryant's symbolic domain and Overton's cultural domain balancing the imaginary/personal and real/material domains.
Now Overton seems to be conflating the mereological whole/part lens with the perspective lens per Edwards model, something that the Lingam also does but in a different way. Overton does recognize that there is increasing complexity via what we'd call holarchy and I'll explore that next. Plus there's also the issue of the withdrawn and Bryant's criticism of relationism, also forthcoming.

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