Design a site like this with
Get started

Emergence and Relativism

All things have some value inherent in them, particularly if we realise that value is situational, functional. There are contexts within which the valueless becomes valuable, and gems turn to ash. One man’s trash and all that.

This clear-minded perspectivism can lead us to think that we must take all viewpoints as equally valuable, as each containing the same amount (or same lack) of truth, and that to hold any up as ultimate or closer to “the truth” is simply a childish partisanship. All things hold truth in them to those who seek it, and only to those who seek it. We make truths as we find them, and anyway, each situation requires a new truth, such that all things are indeed truths in one place or another.

But are we nowhere? Are we never? Or rather; are we anywhere or anytime? We are assuredly not. Regardless of how well we’re able to grasp or define it, we are always somewhere and sometime, we are always within a context, or group of contexts, which though perhaps not finite, are not all-encompassing. Just as a piece of paper can be infinitely shred into countless pieces, yet never produce from this division a diamond, likewise the infinity of possible constructed contexts in any given moment does not mean the inclusion of all contexts within a given moment.

In other words, we don’t live in the endless, unbound void of possibilities. Perhaps we do in some absolute sense, but there are countless layers of meaningful existence between us and this void- there are layers of rules, layers of likelihoods, layers of tendencies that produce certain environments and rule out others. However flexible truth is, you cannot stand on Earth and touch the sun, or tread on water. There are things that, though possible in the void, possible somewhere, are not possible anywhere, and at the very least not possible here.

What this means is that this blank relativism pushed on so many of us today, telling us to be “cool” with whatever doesn’t directly impact what we’re told is our immediate sphere, this relativism that tells us that the absence of ideology is the best ideology, this relativism that tells us not to think about the universe at large because there’s no point- this relativism is a short circuit, it’s a logical leap, it’s a failure of scale. It’s the act of seeing all the unknowns higher and lower than us, piling onto one another, layering onto one another, and assuming that their overlapping confusion is a sign of impossible complexity, of the inclusion of all things anywhere and everywhere, of the fate and folly of any attempt to make sense of the world.

The reality is that this relativism sees each layer, each scale, and flattens them all into one large “outside”, one large “world” that is then conflated with our perception thereof alone, which is then internalised so that the actual “outside” is made dark and unknown. This is nothing if not a continuation of Kant and Aquinas and Plato. There is one big idea in the West, and philosophy seems to be constant permutations on this one idea.

The question of perception, internality and externality is solved by forgetting the idea of essence. If we think there is essentially a “me”, standing alone and ideal, and there is essentially a “thing”, standing alone and ideal, then the question is how either can know the other- and it is seen as impossible, but merely because they are predetermined to be independent and ideal. They spring from nothing, in fact, and exist alone. But to eliminate essence is to tie existence to the existence of others. And to do this, we must consider emergence.

, , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: