How Xeno and Anaximander sit down for tea
I really think the relations/objects debate is, like the wave/particle duality, really about two sides of the same. Is freezing/melting water in a bowl two different things, or two forms of the same changing into each other? To cite me some Zizek, yes, please!
To get more specific. There’s an air of Xeno’s paradoxes whiffing around Tim Morton’s recent reply to Adrian. I think that Tim is completely right that time and objects are mutually defining terms. You can’t have time without objects, but then again, these objects must change for them to give rise to time. Then again, it is worth distinguishing between what Whitehead calls advance (change as such) versus what in relativity theory is called ‘proper time’ (the time experienced from a particular spacetime path). One group of entities engaged in change/advance can give rise to many differing proper timelines (often called ‘worldlines’).
For a worldline to become time as we know it, however, there needs to be memory to compare one change with another. Now, does there need to be continuity between states, or can we be dealing with a set of discontinuous jumps between states? Here we end up with the infinite regresses of Xeno’s paradoxes – how is change possible, if all is infinitely divisible? Of course, the question is perhaps whether or not all actually IS infinitely divisible. Then again, all the quantum physics I’ve read seems to suggest that yes, as far down as you go (quark jets anyone?), it’s turtles all the way down. But perhaps that is irrelevant because we are dealing here with the issue of observing change, and this always implies an observer.
An observer? While I know there can be change without observers, I don’t think there’s time without them. That is, the ability to compare states and to recognize and measure and experience rates of change. An observer is not necessarily human, but at least something with memory and the ability to compare that memory to new and different stimuli.
So far so good. Let’s assume that objects precede time, even give rise to it. And let’s assume the jumps between them are discontinuous, as many in quantum physics actually do (dealing with quantum events as discontinous jumps between particles). But then the issue of how change is ever possible becomes mysterious, ineffable. A jump in the void. Mystical.
Which is why many people try to argue that quantum particles are nothing but points, without real existence of their own, which describe interference patterns within waves. Solid matter is nothing more than vibratory patterns in the cosmic symphony, ‘standing waves’ of a degree of complexity, but little more. No events, no objects.
But it makes more sense, it seems to me, to argue for duality, and even beyond this, namely, that waves and particles are two sides of the same.
I also fail to see why self-differing substance, a single substance whose very substantiality is only composed of its potential for self differing, is any less able to explain what OOO does by means of an infinity of potentially different substances that share a world. Aren’t these also two sides of the same?
Can someone explain this to me? This is why I see comments like this, which Tim cites from a reader, as kinda baffling:
it is this idea of an organism, a totality, which basically crushes its parts into submission, that feeds and drains them into the fluid “whole,” this ontology itself is woefully under-analyzed and too easily granted. Aristotle’s response is as forceful now as it was to the pre-Sophists: if everything is a reflection, if everything is attributable to everything else, then nothing can ever change. At its root, every philosophy which does not admit of some kind of essential substance, form or unity is ultimately left scratching their head about causality, or dissolving it outright into a Heraclitean plasma. I can hear the rejoinder now: “but we want to think the middle ground between this disastrous, changeless flow and a world of specific, disengaged pieces of concrete that never meet at all.” Well, then welcome to object-oriented philosophy, the only game in town at the moment which ventures to think the unified multiplicity that is the thing, or this thing, or any-thing at all. Every object is an ecology, but also an ecology. If a philosophy doesn’t have some kind of basic tension analogous to a unified object and its pieces, then how can it really explain change?
Because attacks on Lavalampyness seem to assume that gooey Deleuzianism reduces the sheer difference of objects to ‘all the same’, such that the goo is some evil totality-totalizing monster. In fact, when the goo is nothing but sheer difference manifesting as substance, I simply can’t buy that.