What Kind of Emergence?

Posted by | Chris | 13.9.10 | No Comments

A couple of things that I have read recently have given articulation to some things I've been thinking which I hope clarify our panpsychist project. Reading Iain's talk from the Speculative Realism section of Collapse III put into perspective questions of the relation of a transcendental method and a speculative project in panpsychism. I have said before that if we begin from a realism about experience or thought then a question motivating further inquiry is: "Given that there is thought what must the world be like that thought is a part of the world?" This comes close to a transcendental question: "What are the necessary requirements that thought is possible?"

The argument made by Iain is that the two do indeed share something: an interest in the necessary, although not sufficient, conditions for thought. Conditions are necessary in that thought in general would not exist without these conditions but they are not sufficient to determine specific thoughts. For Kant this means that no thought is determined but Iain draws this further out, and this is where he diverges from Kant. Kant's transcendental is legislated by thought, thought grounding thought, and so in this domain it is absolutely certain. But this is impossible for any realism because thought must be the product of something anterior. For Iain this is nature, and so the varieties of thought or forms of thinking are not determined either. Being produces thinking but "we simply have to give up the illusion that the domain of thinking we call reflection is coextensive with thinking tout court" (Collapse V.III, p. 350).

I've also been following the
DeLanda reading group and a post by Levi Bryant really opened something up for me. DeLanda's theory of assemblages is opposed to organic totalities (such as Hegel's) and this is because every part of any system is an entity with structure or power beyond it's relations to the system as a whole. The relations in a system are external to the entities assembled in it and: "The central feature of relations of exteriority is that the components of an assemblage may be detached from it and plugged into a different assemblage in which it's interactions are different".

In Bryant's case this exposition of DeLanda is obviously in the context of an Object Oriented Ontology. But DeLanda being a Deleuzian you could easily make the same kinds of arguments in a powers/process/idealist ontology.
The properties of some entity do not exhaust its being because in a different context it may manifest differently characteristics. This seems especially interesting in relation to panpsychism since the potential for psyche to be manifest may not always be given in an environment. But where conditions are met the psyche which was always a power in reserve may bloom forth.

This still doesn't get us past the idealism/dualism dichotomy but I think it's important to recognise that causality, whether of a pre-individual Ideation or of heterogeneous powers, is a problem which requires work beyond our project. Within the scope of our project we want only to make an argument that panpsychism be taken seriously. I think that we probably have a number of resources to make such an argument.


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