[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

wessr at onid.orst.edu wessr at onid.orst.edu
Sun Nov 16 20:50:30 EST 2014

Greg, just a note--

In reading your metaphysical "musings," as you put it, I assumed you  
opposed "antagonism" and "subagonism" in the name of "synagonism."  
Maybe that was a mistake. In any case, you might want to consider some  
things in Aristotle to see if it prompts any reevaluations and/or new  

Aristotle's theory of change involves contraries (not  
contradictories). As with most things, Aristotle considers contraries  
in multiple senses in multiple contexts (e.g., Categories, On  
Interpretation, Physics, Metaphysics). Not all these senses would be  
that relevant but some seem to have a "family resemblance" to your  
"synagonism," at least to me.

This "resemblance" appears in contraries that are extremes with  
intermediates (that's why they are not contradictories). The extremes  
are essential to one another and appear in intermediates mixings,  
sometimes with one extreme (e.g. hot) dominating, sometimes with the  
other (e.g., cold) dominating. For what it's worth, your "synagonism"  
reminded me of some of Aristotle's contraries.

One wonders if someone (it would probably have to be an Aristotelian  
scholar) ever inquired into the extent to which waves and particles,  
as conceived today, qualify in any way as Aristotelian contraries.  
That would interest me.

If you ever compare and contrast your theory of change with  
Aristotle's, I'd be interested in seeing what you come up with.

Enjoy the holidays--amazingly, they're upon us again.


Quoting Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>:

> Bob—everything you say on the metaphysics topic strikes me as right.  
> But there may be a strategy left for overcoming some of the  
> differences between what I am proposing with regard to pre-modern,  
> modern, and postmodern metaphysics and my claims about the failure  
> of monism in relation to your points.
> This strategy would involve making a distinction between metaphysics  
> and ontology, where metaphysics would be the philosophy of the  
> nature of being and ontology would be the philosophy of the nature  
> of reality.
> (This paragraph is mostly recapitulation—me thinking out loud, so to  
> speak) When addressing the nature of being, it would make sense  
> (from my point of view) to say there cannot be only ONE elemental  
> substance because that does not enable us to account for change and  
> difference. There must be TWO elemental substances and these cannot  
> be reduced, one to the other. Also, one cannot be prior in origin to  
> the other because this would imply priority (as in the Trinity where  
> in the case of the “Father” and “Son” the term “father” implies  
> having preceded the “son” in origin). And this priority leads to  
> theorizing the less prior element as a mere extension of the other  
> element, which then reduces to monism and/or monotheism. If there is  
> first the “father” how then can there be the “son” without the  
> intrusion of difference (i.e., “woman,” “mother,” “other,” etc.)?  
> So, in order for there to be difference and change there must be two  
> and the two must be equiprimordial, otherwise the one merely reduces  
> to the other and we are left with monism and the question of  
> difference and how does it arise. In this sense, regarding  
> metaphysics, there can only be varieties of dualism. Monism is  
> unstable (or, more accurately, too stable in that nothing can happen).
> This, of course, leaves the point Bob raises and Burke also raises  
> somewhere (GM and RM ?) that where there are two interacting there  
> must be a ground for their interaction—the means through which they  
> meet and interact. This ground may be seen as the ONE that makes  
> possible the motion of the TWO. But this ONE is a structure of  
> reality--not itself a being or substance.  So when asking, “what is  
> the nature of being?” it makes sense to say that it is composed of  
> two elemental, irreducible substances ontologically linked for their  
> interaction in ONE system. Metaphysically speaking, there are TWO  
> substances and ontologically speaking there is ONE system through  
> which TWO substances interact. So whether we are using the  
> terminology of ONE or TWO depends on whether we are speaking of the  
> nature of reality or the nature of being, structure or substance.  
> I’m not sure this “strategy” will address all of Bob’s points, but  
> it seems relevant to a good part of the group of issues he raises.
> As for the notion of chaos, I think it is only a derived logical  
> placeholder and not a term useful in any ontological sense.  
> Similarly with the term Burke uses: disorder. And also the term  
> “nothing” in the notion that the cosmos came from nothing. Chaos and  
> disorder are notions that can only, in my opinion, refer to  
> DIFFERENT orders. What could possibly count as “disorder” and how  
> would we know it was disorder? We can never rule out the possibility  
> that what we call disorder is only another form of order, an order  
> which we have not yet been able to see. So chaos and disorder can  
> have metaphorical uses through a species of dialectical logic but  
> not any real sense in the realm of ontology because there would be  
> no way to prove that chaos or disorder have been encountered in any  
> empirical sense, no way to ever see whether they have any basis in  
> reality. The same holds for the notion of “nothing.” It would not be  
> possible to ever verify that there could be “nothing” as opposed to  
> “something.” What could “nothing” even mean in this context? As far  
> as humans are concerned there can only have ever been  
> “something”—ever and always—and in the context of cosmological  
> origins even “nothing” counts as a kind of “something”—insofar as it  
> may be seen to have given birth to something, namely the cosmos and  
> us. In giving birth to something, what sense would it make to call  
> it nothing? The issue regarding chaos, disorder, and nothing seems  
> like a terminologically imposed problem more than an ontologically  
> relevant issue.
> Greg

More information about the KB mailing list