previous | | 1.7.2 (65) | contents


fig.52 “...the dog goes ‘meow’, the cat goes ‘woof­-woof’...”

 Conventional ‘opposites’ are derived from everyday use. How do they work? By magnifying the difference between similar things, they turn ontological distinctions into categorial oppositions. Which means what?for example, the figurative hostilities that repel cats from dogs, apples from oranges, and Mars from Venus are lodged betwixt two subtypes of one supertype: the ‘higher’ category, e.g. mammals, fruits or planets may or may not contain other pairs held in hostility by figures of speech. In a taxonomic schema, cats and dogs may be classed in multiple ways at multiple levels. Compare, by analogy, subtype­-of-a-supertype, subset­-of-a-set, instance­-of-a-class, and species­-of-a-genus. The order of rodents is more specific than mammals, just as vertibrates is more general. Contextual or behavioral classes, such as pets or carnivores, cut across multiple ontological categories. So what? we ask Pascal: “‘This dog is mine,’ said those poor children, ‘that is my place in the sun.’ Here is the primal image of the usurpation of the whole earth.” 1670

index | 1.7.3 (66) | | next



fig.53—Metaxonomntocategoriclassificity for Mystic Misfits

“We shall exercise philosophy through all rungs of the ladder, that is, nature, penetrating being from center to surface and from surface to center. At one time, we shall descend with titanic force, dismembering the unity of the many. At another time we shall ascend, recollecting those same members into their original unity.”—Pico 1486


 Premature dismemberment notwithstanding, precocious Count Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola harked to near as many names as Sir Bertrand. While each was a man of their day, both strove, like Feynman, to yoke “this multitude of aspects” to “a small number” of headings. Pico hitched capite censi unto theism, Russell a vacuum, and Feynman found Plenty of Room at the Bottom. So—are you in or out? Friend or foe? “With us or against us”? The set­-theoric topology of inclusion/exclusion circumscribes every schematic classification—from family tree to corporate org chart to biological taxonomy to the fundamental ontology of “elemental things and forces.

© 2008-2012 Ian C Thorne. all rights reserved. about credits privacy contact share