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fig.5—the Opposite of Coincidence is a Formal Matter


 If ‘model’ can stand for nearly anything, should we ask “what isn’t a model?” The Columns of figs.5­-6 refer directly to key categories, and indirectly to their opposites. Our most durable concepts are best understood as pairwise oppositions; by interchanging ‘synonyms’ we expand their application via metaphors. Which came first—the oak or the acorn? Across the globe, we uprooted our mythical family trees by splitting the trunk of Form (correlated to a ‘male principle’) from the taproot of Matter (correlated to a ‘female principle’). As the cognate terms ‘matrix,’ ‘matter,’ and ‘mother’ stem from one branch, how does such a universal theory treat our particular realities? We can sensibly assent to neither “Essence precedes Existence” as per Aristotle nor “Existence precedes Essence” as per Averroës. Why? Such nouns turn Quine’s “objects of reference” into Reverence of Objects—and as Wittgenstein would say, only “nonsensical” assertions like these try to push or pull concrete effects across an abstract horizon of cause. 

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fig.6—Father Time vs. Mother Earth? Are we stuck on either/or?


 In the premodern era, several types of nominalism spoke to the Problem of Universals by denying either the adequacy of particular words to universal concepts or the correspondence of universal words to particular things—or both. While Thomas Aquinas invoked essence as (Lat.) quidditas (‘whatness’), Duns Scotus evoked it as haecceitas (‘thisness’). Problem solved? Not quite. At the turning point of the modern era, Kant contrasted rationalism with empiricism to surmise that irreconcilable ‘antinomies’ such as space and time follow out to aporia—to contradiction or paradox. Thus, while we can manipulate each within formal theories (of six­-dimensional space, backwards time, etc.), we cannot split our experience of ‘space-time’ into two material realities (and if you don’t believe us, or Kant, perhaps you can go back and ask Kurt Gödel). In the postmodern era, ’isms such as nativism, constructivism, and computationalism continue to arise, either to undergird or undermine the overarching models of science, philosophy, and theology.

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