Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Massumi on relations and relationalism versus interactionism and the problem of novelty/change (VIDEO)

I've always agreed with this critique: if we try to go with "interactivity" we are at a loss for how there is change and genuine novelty in the universe.  Additionally, it seems that outcomes must in some sense be "certain" if always already formally individuated particulars/agents "interact" on a scale of pre-individuated essential/formal natures rather than relate between partially unspecified natures, whose potential for change is informed by the capacity to mutually participate in an ever-becoming reality.

Things/agents/particulars are defined by participation in such a becoming reality.  If novelty and the potential for change is true, then things are indeed exhausted by their relations (as Massumi points out); that is, things are exhausted by the relation of mutually relating to an unspecified future.  So it is the indeterminacy of the future which "trumps all."  Agentially speaking, however, there is an upside to this indeterminacy: the freedom of things.

An unspecified future means that things - individuals - can be otherwise than what they are, i.e. self-determining.  If this were not true the inner power for things/agents to self-determine would mean nothing.  In this way not only are relation and change ultimacies, but freedom, too, becomes an ultimate metaphysical category.  Here a long-lasting truth of existentialism, construed in the form of modern agentialist metaphysics (Stengers, Latour) but also found in process-relational philosophy (Whitehead, Deleuze), rears its head.