Matt of Footnotes to Plato and Levi of Larval Subjects are going at it again.
I have copied my comment on Matt's post below. In general, I insist that Levi's arguments are beside the point, and given that this has been discussed for at least nine months, I can only conclude that Levi is committing fallacious reasoning or a misinterpretation leading to that. Particularly, he continues to read classical Aristotelian views into myself, Matt, and Whitehead that are not there, and rebukes all patient efforts to correct him on that point. I give some detailed explanation below.
In responding to you, Levi writes "The concept of formal causality only makes sense and is required if one advocates the view that there’s unformed passive matter awaiting form to give it structure." I disagree and would like to know if your thinking aligns with mine on the issue. As I have been explicating for some time, another reason to argue for "form" other than for the Aristotelian reasons to which Levi alludes, is to argue for scholastic realism. This is to argue against nominalism, the idea that only particular things exsist, and therefore no general or universal statements can be made about anything that exists. If one adopts nominalism, many implications follow. So, when I advocate "form," I am merely saying that there is some real structures and qualities (predicates) to a thing that have true generality and are not singular to that thing. I am not, contra Levi, arguing for "unformed matter," which is a strictly Aristotelian view that you and I have been rejecting. Matt, you've posted a lot on Whitehead's view, which is different from my more Peircean view, but I believe this can be said of both of us, no? Perhaps both of us would agree that a given "form" or structure is not absolute, but I'm not 100% certain that can be said of Whitehead, though it can be certainly said of Peirce as its an implication of his theory of synechism (continuity) relating to tychism (chance).
If one accepts materialism, implying the existence that only the material exists, then true unviersality or generality is impossible, and one almost certainly embraces nominalism. For us robust realists, that is a reduction, and that is also a point that Deacon is making. That is, we are disagreeing with Levi's claim that "While signifying systems can’t exist without electro-neural-chemical systems, we would learn next to nothing about a particular signifying system by studying neurology." Signification can exist without these systems, though it may not be the kind of "signification" that one is familiar with from Frege's logic; it is Peirce's logic.
Is not this ongoing issue beside the point? Or am I missing something? What is on point? I ask these question out of hermeneutic charity.
A thought. Is Levi arguing for emergence without purposiveness? E.g., creativity without emergent teleology?