Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Causal Closure of Nature: A Re-Introduction (Part 3)

Given that my hypothesis about the causal closure of nature has been repeated a number of times in the speculative realism blogosphere, I wish to revisit the issue.  The first time I was "thinking out loud" and was not intending to spark a controversy about causality and the godhead in speculative realism and object-oriented ontology.  Hence, after the fact, I will explain what I was thinking more clearly.  It concerns a hypothesis about cosmogenesis and the unfolding of the universe.

I began with the assumption that order cannot come from chaos ex nihilo.  There must be some limitation from which order is possible.  I presumed it would be an immanent limitation as I am an "open" monist; all is being (ontologically), and exists as nature (ontically).  This forbids traditional transcendence and all such religions, including conventional Christianity.  However, existence is only one of at least three modalities of being, qua Peirce.  Existence or activity is secondness, while possibility is firstness, and law, meaning, or habit is thirdness.  Suppose that the categories and triadic logic were minimally sufficient to describe the cosmos.  What, plausibly, might be limited to produce order?

I then specified the "limit" as the mathematical or algebraic "closure" of secondness qua activity.  Closure means that given any natural element of the triad (ontic), whether possibility, existence, or law, its operation upon another element must also be natural.  The mathematical definition is here:  (I have a B.S. degree in mathematics and took every course in every kind of non-statistical analysis offered.)

I understood the limitation to mean that the set of real possibilities for natural forces was closed, or limited, and that this place correlative limits on what might exist determinately (which is concrete thirdness and not pure secondness).  Keep in mind that to speak of the "possibilities of natural forces" is to speak of a first of a second (second of a first?) and not pure secondness.  That is, firstness would be limited to the closure of secondness, i.e., the possibilities of natural forces would be limited.

This has consequences, which I noted in the comments to my first post and in a second post.  Concerning theology, a traditional conception of the perfection of God--perfections in the scholastic sense--requires some kind of limitation on the godhead.  I say this because, per Plato's famous Euthyphro argument, that the good is a limitation of God and not the other way around.  Catholicism agrees with this view, while some of American Protestantism does not, i.e., the voluntarists or unconcerned, such as the Southern Baptists.  (God does whatever God wills, period, and thereby makes it good.)  For the doctrine of the perfections, i.e., how god "has" the cardinal virtues, etc., there is more at stake than goodness, but that's the popularly troublesome one.  

Let me get back on point.  I did not think that possibility was closed.  The same with meaning or law.  If they are closed or otherwise limited, it seems that secondness or activity/existence was the most informative.  However, the universality or eternity of thirdness qua generality is the next topic that I'd like to see treated, although for that  I will return to Peirce.

1 comment:

  1. p.s., if you don't know what's at stake in the discussion of the subsistence/persistence/existence of generality, then let me say that it is nothing less than the debate between realism and nominalism. This matters much in traditional Christianity, but has become pushed to the side side the renaissance.