Monday, November 18, 2013

Irreducible relationality and infinite density: quote of the day and a thought or two

"A new creation in which the inner and outer realms are united, and the interior depths of inwardness are identical with the exterior and outer depths of every other. 

Thomas J.J. Altizer - The Descent into Hell

This quote was taken from Matthew McCraken's blog about radical theology.  On his blog THIS post in particular had me thinking (again) about the metaphysics of individuation: specifically about the concept of relations and their necessity, as well as about how - following Adam Kotsko to some degree (see quote below) - individuals, centers of experience, are "nodal" in the sense that each center is "infinitely deep" in terms of the potential that actuates those centers. Yet, in being self-actuating, individuals, centerpoints of experience, singulars etc. etc. are *related* by the fact that all require that potential in order to *be* individuals. In other words, through that potential - a generic category of freedom; indeed, a relational universal, individuals are capable of their self actuation.

A significant part of this actuation is semiotic communicative expression by way of feeling, sensation, emotion, or empathy - as well as temporal future self-creation.  In the end we have a relation of self to other, self to self, and other to other (thus my interest in the Altizer quote).  

"The world is a network of physical and spiritual relationships of which humanity forms a nodal point. The world is not somethinggiven or static, but continually arises out of the interactions among thesingularities that make it up."

Adam Kotsko - The Politics of Redemption

When it comes to articulating the *nature* of singulars and how they express but also partake in relations, I believe that it is not just about articulating an environmental aesthetic construed strictly in terms of sensation or materiality.  What we need is an environmental aesthetic ground in what I call an "ecological metaphysics," one that takes aesthetics, and more specifically the expression of the aesthetic into consideration.  This is to say that information also comes into play in discussion of what it means to be an individual.

The material aesthetic expression of singulars is semiotic in the sense that semiosis accounts for agents (singulars that act through potential, ontological freedom), their relations, and the expressions of those agents in and through relations.  Stated differently, an environmental aesthetic, one that is truly ecological, must account for the information produced by agents, their relations, and their various conjunctive and disjunctive syntheses that make for a natural semiotic.  This semiotic exists, or better "subsists," within an ecological network, and indeed, in part constitutes it.  Therefore, as much as aesthetics understood traditionally contributes to our understanding of metaphysics in the most general sense, semiotics understood within the realm of an "ecological metaphysics" is an invaluable tool as well.  Knit with aesthetics this ecology produces biosemiotics if "bio" refers to the living sensate empirical world in its most radical and broad sense (Jamesian and Whiteheadian empiricism). Afterall, what *doesn't* self-communicate?

What this boils down to is that relations are irreducible and that an environmental aesthetic, if it is to be thoroughly ecological, must account for relations and the natural semiotic that goes with them.

See these posts from some time back: