Complexification: A Recent Excerpt from the Manuscript-in-progress, Part I
[What does it mean to transform a notion in general circulation into a philosophical concept? As Deleuze has argued, philosophy is the creation of concepts. Well, what you see below is an attempt at just that, the process of slowly articulating and defining the relation between a concept and those with which it is essentially related.
Over here, it’s been editing/rewriting of the manuscript, day in and day out (hence the general blog silence). The results are, from what I can tell, worth it, but it’s a damn lotta work. Luckily, the progress seems pretty consistent.This weeks its spring break, and I’m really in some crazy zone where its work all day, take some breaks, and back to work.
Anyway, as an example of the sort of stuff I’ve been doing, here’s what I was working on today. In this excerpt, which really takes off at the end, we see the manner in which the notion of potential used in the conception of complexity described here distinctly differs from the Deleuzian one.]
That which emerges emerges from emergence, and in this sense, the potential for emergence must contain that which emerges from it, even if as potential. The more potential emergence has, the more potential emergence contains itself. Were emergence ever to cease containing itself, it would have no potential. Such a state is most likely an abstraction, and most likely has never existed in our universe, for all that we know has potential, and this potential is the manner in which emergence contains itself within itself.
However, some aspects of emergence have more potential than others, and hence, are more intense forms of potential emergence than others, even as other aspects of emergence are more intensely in the process of emerging. What could it mean, however, to emerge more intensely, or to potentially emerge more intensely?
If differentiation describes emergence in its most abstract form, and differentiation is a form of differing which endures by extending itself into the world, we can in this sense say that to emerge more intensely would be to give rise to more differentiation, both/and as intensity/quality and degree/quantity. Likewise, a greater degree of intensity of potential emergence would be an increase in the potential to produce differentiations.
What is it, however, which gives rise to differentiation, and which has the potential to differentiate? That which has already actualized. We see this all the time in the world, in which, for example, wood can be burned to produce heat. Wood is something which has actualized the potential of the sun, binding the energy of the sun within it, giving rise to the potential for fire at some later point. And this fire can then be used to run a steam engine, smelt iron tools, heat a house, or produce a wide variety of other potential differentiations in the world.
And yet, where does the potential that the wood gains from the sun come from? The sun uses nuclear fusion to produce high energy light particles which transmit energy to the tree which produced the wood, and yet the sun itself gains its potential from the processes early in the universe which produced its potential. These processes, generally called the Big Bang, gave rise to all the potential in our universe. We cannot know whether or not the Big Bang was able to create potential spontaneously, or if it received it from elsewhere. Much more will be said about these issues, and the cosmological and philosophical issues they raise, in the volume on matrixology.
Nevertheless, in all the processes described above, a few processes can be abstracted in relation to the attempt to conceptualize what it means to intensify emergence. Firstly, that all that is actualized possesses potential which, in our universe, can ultimately be traced to the Big Bang. Secondly, that it is possible to locally increase the potential of certain actualities by a series of processes, for example, those which exist in the sun.
This is not, however, to equate potential with energy. For while the sun may be the source of all energy on Earth, it is only indirectly responsible for all that has emerged here. The link between the sun and the great diversity of lifeforms, or that of human culture, is an indirect one. All the energy in the world cannot give rise to a symphony or novel or language or science, not without the mediation of entities capable of transforming energy into symphonies or novels or language or science or whatever else.
These mediating aspects of emergence seem to increase the diversity of potential differentiations which a potential can give rise to. That is, the potential stored in a block of wood can give rise to fire by itself, but a human can channel that fire to, say, produce electricity to run a computer on which that human writes a novel. Even if the human does not increase the aggregate energy released by the fire, and even if it cannot increase the degree of differentiation that fire gives rise to, it can increase the degree of potential differentiation it can give rise to.
Here we see how it is that potential is ultimately relative. For if wood never encounters heat, it cannot actualize its potential for fire, just as if that wood never encounters humans, it cannot actualize its potential to, in a sense, actualize, if indirectly, as a novel or science experiment via its human mediator. In such a situation, the human mediator seems to increase the potential within the wood. And yet, the wood is the same wood all along. Its potential to become both fire and novel is there all along, if potentially, but that potential can only become actualized when it can be supported by other entities with which it can intertwine so as to actualize as novel rather than as fire.
And in fact, all potential is, due to the abstract nature of potential, the potential to be anything which can be within what is. For all that has emerged from the Big Bang, as far as we know, was originally part of the same stuff, compressed in a tiny space. We have no reason to believe that any aspect of the universe has more potential than any other, or that each could not, in the right circumstances, create a new big bang.
Potential must therefore be equally relative, it must be something which increases based on the type of intertwinings in which it can unfold. And in fact, this is precisely what is meant by potential according to the networkological project.
From such a perspective, the intensity of the potential for emergence should not be seen as merely the potential for differentiation, but for different types of differentiation, which is, as it were, meta-differentiation. That is, the intensity of potential for emergence is the intensity of the potential differentiation of the differentiation of emergence which can actualize thereby. And then the intensity of actualizing emergence would be the intensity of the potential emergence it actualizes, and the potential which its actualization gives rise to in turn.
Let us call the process of intertwining aspects of emergence so as to increase the potential for the intensity of emergence complexification, and let us call the complexification of emergence complexity.