Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pragmatic Process Metaphysics and Emergent Teleology


This is a semi-autonomous post on the themes on my prior posts.

Emergent teleology may seem either antiquated or incoherent to someone who sees the word "teleology" and interprets it per its classical denotations.  What the classical views have in common is the notion that a telos is an essential purpose or final state of a substance (essence) to be achieved through the activities afforded by its potentialities.  Hence, the telos of an acorn is the oak tree, the fulfillment of its telos through its own growth that may be foiled only by material or efficient causal conditions.  There can be no defect in its telos, because it is essentially fixed.  This view of teleology has almost nothing to do with Deweyan emergent teleology, which is a branch of American naturalism (Colombia school, e.g., Woodbridge).

Teleogy becomes temporal, which is not the same as historical.  A telos becomes the anticipated future of a present that will be achieved unless something alters or prevents the present issuance. Its assurity resides in the persistence of the past that secures its present.  Hence, a telos is what may be.

Teleology becomes emergent.  That is, in the creative genesis of the emergence of an actual event (~conscresence), new real possibilities are created in part because new teloi become possible.  Although there is much to say on the subject, and I've discussed it much in prior posts.  I wish to focus on activity or force and its teleology.  My prior posts demonstrate the importance of force as a component of potency.

Emergent teleology becomes interesting when discussing activity or force.  I have previously discussed activity or force as a triadic potentiality of 1) capacity (dunamis), 2) activity (kinesis) and 3) realization unto actuality (entelechy or "telos of an activity").  The emergent telos of an activity is the anticipated future of the present, in regards to the activity that strives to realize it.  Previously I have discussed the composability of entelechies and that activity is always striving and is not to be thought as a property of a substance.  I will say a little more on this now.

Activity or force is understood as a Peircean dyad.  Force depends on contest, contact, transaction, and is not an activity of a substance per its potency.  This differs from some classical views in that it is no longer understood as originating from substance, but from two contesting existences, and thus Aristotle's unmoved mover becomes impossible as self-reference is monadic or a degenerate dyad.  There is no force there, no auto-erotic movement that turns all the heavens for want of it.  Force and existence are equiprimordial, since one cannot be without the other.  (I omit a defense of the dyadic nature of existence; I will cite Peirce on the subject.)

In closing, there are a few significant points to remember about emergent teleology.  First, a telos is not fixed in some substance; it is the end of an activity that is always striving to acheive it.  Hence, things do not strive to be some fulfilled identity, to be their telos as understood in the Aristotelian way, but rather a force is doing and will do something and that something is its telos.  Second, teloi are composable; a nexus or dynamic system of transactive forces produce new systems of forces, teloi, and both the actuality and possibility of events.  While this may create hierarchies, there is no metaphysical necessity to this, no Great Chain of Being, although there is development and evolution.

There are more points to be made, but let us begin here.  For those who are curious where I go with this in my own work, this is the metaphysical side of a pragmatic, realist theory of "representation" in the philosophy of mind--or to say this  "in continental," a process phenomenology.  I write "representation" out of convention, as the view is non-representational in a Peircean manner.



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